Aimia has until now been best-known as one of the world's biggest loyalty marketing agencies, operating rewards programmes for airlines and other companies in several markets across the globe. However it has also undergone several long years of restructuring in which several of its most high-profile loyalty schemes were divested. The business was formed in 2009 from the acquisition of CRM and loyalty marketer Carlson Marketing Group by Canadian company Aeroplan, which already controlled several global rewards schemes including Air Canada's frequent flyer programme, Air Miles in the Middle East and UK-based Nectar, the coalition loyalty programme for Sainsbury's, BP, EasyJet and other major marketers. It also runs customer loyalty or employee reward programmes for individual corporate clients including Avis Budget and Nordstrom. Following the acquisition, Carlson steadily reduced its involvement in traditional CRM to concentrate exclusively on the loyalty segment. That eventually prompted the full change of name to Aimia in 2011. Meanwhile, the group expanded its global footprint, launching or acquiring stakes in similar schemes including AeroMexico's Club Premier and Prismah of Brazil. In 2014, it took charge of Malaysian carrier AirAsia's BIG Loyalty scheme. However its biggest business by far remained Aeroplan, with around 5m active members, and Aimia trimmed its portfolio of other interests to focus on the core brand. In 2018, it sold its holding in the UK-based Nectar scheme to founding partner Sainsbury's, as well as several other non-core operations. Later the same year the company also accepted an offer from Air Canada and other partners to buy out the Aeroplan program for $540m. As a result of those disposals, group revenues tumbled from C$1.6bn in 2017 to just C$134m in 2019, although the sale of Aeroplan in particular generated a massive C$1bn profit. At that point Aimia's main remaining assets were its shareholding in AeroMexico's Club Premier, AirMiles Middle East and BIG in Asia and the Avis Budget loyalty contract. In 2020, in a transaction masterminded by investment manager and Aimia board director Philip Mittleman, Aimia transferred its loyalty operations to Canadian technology platform Kognitiv and acquired Mittleman's own investment business. Aimia itself reverts to an investment company, but retains a 49% stake in the merged Kognitiv entity.
Capsule checked 29th July 2020
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Feb 2018: UK retailer Sainsbury's has acquired full control of the Nectar loyalty and rewards scheme in a buyout from its former operator Aimia for £60m. Sainsbury's was one of the original co-founders of Nectar in 2002. It said that the deal would make no change for existing Nectar customers.
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