Aimia tries to pull out of tailspin with new direction

nectar 2Aimia, the one-time owner of Nectar, Air Miles and Carlson Marketing, has effectively pulled out of the loyalty business to pursue a new strategy as an investment holding company.

The Canadian company has seemingly been in turmoil for years, triggered by a triple whammy of events which began as far back as 2015.

First up, Nectar partner Sainsbury’s decided to rein in rewards; then the UK Government introduced restrictions on energy suppliers offering loyalty points; and finally Aimia lost Nectar Italia’s main retail partner, supermarket chain Auchan.

In 2017, Aimia was rocked again when Air Canada – the company it was formed from – said it would take its travel rewards scheme in-house from 2020.

In February 2018, Aimia offloaded the Nectar loyalty scheme (pictured) to Sainsbury’s in a £60m “cut-price” deal, just over a decade after founder Keith Mills had sold the business to the Canadian company for £368m.

Now it has ousted chief executive Jeremy Rabe and appointed Philip Mittleman as interim CEO, effective immediately. Rabe had succeeded David Johnston, who left “by mutual agreement” in 2018.

Aimia said Rabe’s exit was in response to the “different skills” required by the change in direction and following yet another torrid year of shareholder unrest and litigation.

The company is also selling a majority stake in its Loyalty Solutions business business to Kognitiv Corporation. Aimia insists the “merger” will create “a visionary leader that is well positioned to redefine the loyalty industry”.

However, the new Aimia board now has opted to focus on long-term investments in public and private companies.

Aimia chairman Charles Frischer commented: “This is an exciting day for Aimia stakeholders. We have assembled a world-class board of directors to execute our new strategy, each of whom has purchased Aimia stock in the open market, to oversee our new management team’s efforts to create significant value for Aimia’s stakeholders.

“We have successfully executed major cost reductions and restructuring that allows us to move forward as a lean organisation focused entirely on creating value. The Loyalty Solutions/Kognitiv merger is the first example of how we plan on unlocking value at Aimia and expect to help shepherd this exciting merger to what we hope will be a successful liquidity event.”

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Sainsbury’s cutbacks hit Nectar UK
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