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01/16/2015

Sobeys to offer Air Miles in Ontario, too

Sobeys and Metro will both have the Air Miles program in the province

Two grocery chains–not one–will offer the Air Miles reward program in Ontario this year.

Canadian Grocer has learned that Metro and rival Sobeys will both now carry the popular loyalty scheme in that province after Sobeys said it was launching Air Miles at Ontario Foodland, Urban Fresh and Sobeys stores starting March 27.

Metro stores have carried Air Miles in Ontario for 17 years.

As of the end of March, Sobeys can claim to offer Air Miles country-wide. Shoppers in Quebec and the Maritimes have long collected Air Miles points at Sobeys. Last year, the Nova Scotia-based chain introduced the program to its stores in Western Canada.

"For the first time we will have a national rewards program," noted Marc Poulin, Sobeys CEO in a statement. "Our customers have responded very positively to the Air Miles program in other provinces, and we are looking forward to adding the same value to our customers' shopping experience in Ontario."

A press release from Loyalty One, owner of the Air Miles program, said that Sobeys existing loyalty schemes in Ontario, Club Sobeys and the BMO Club Sobeys Mastercard, will "transition to the Air Miles reward program" this year.

According to Loyalty One, 10 million Canadians have an Air Miles Card and the loyalty program is in two-thirds of all households in the country.

On Thursday, Metro confirmed that it has extended its agreement with Air Miles in Ontario. In Quebec, where it is headquartered, Metro operates its own loyalty program, Metro & Moi.

Loyalty programs have become more important to grocers in recent years as they've looked for new ways to entice shoppers in their stores and use customer data to drive sales. Two years ago Loblaw introduced its own loyalty program, PC Plus, at Loblaws stores in Ontario. That program has since been extended to other parts of the country and to other Loblaw banners.

Metro partnered with the British loyalty firm Dunnhumby four years ago when it launched Metro & Moi . Dunnhumby is owned by the U.K. retail giant Tesco, whose Clubcard program, started in the 1990s, is viewed as the precursor to today's supermarket loyalty programs.