Aimia global chief executive David Johnston is to leave the business “by mutual agreement” following a disastrous two years for the one-time loyalty giant, which in the past 12 months alone has not only lost its biggest contract – Air Canada – but also taken a huge hit on the sale of the UK Nectar scheme.
Johnston had only been in the role a year, succeeding Rupert Duchesne, who left the business four months after being put on sick leave.
Johnston – who was formerly head of EMEA operations – will be staying on until a replacement is found. He said: “As Aimia’s business and geographic footprint shrinks, it was logical timing for me. Now is the right time for new leadership to step in. The board have a process already in the place and I’m confident you’ll hear more news on that pretty quickly.”
Aima has been in the wars since 2016, after being forced to implement a massive cost-cutting programme, including scrapping over 200 jobs, slashing C$40m (£19.8m) out of the business and disposing of “non-core assets”.
This was triggered by Sainsbury’s decision a year earlier to rein in rewards and restrictions on energy suppliers as well as the loss of Nectar Italia’s main retail partner, supermarket chain Auchan.
Last year, 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.
And in February this year, Aimia offloaded the Nectar loyalty scheme to Sainsbury’s in a £60m “cut-price” deal, just over a decade after founder Keith Mills sold the business to the Canadian company for £368m.
At the time, Johnston said: “The transaction allows for a sharper focus on Aeroplan, our largest and most profitable business, and simplifies our operations all the while preserving a robust balance sheet for our ongoing business.”
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