Sainsbury’s strikes joint marketing pact with BA

Strategic partnership between two of Britain’s leading brand names opens way for major initiatives

Sainsbury’s could soon be selling British Airways leisure and holiday services, and BA may offer Sainsbury’s meals on its flights as part of a strategic marketing partnership struck by the two companies.

The move represents the first such alliance for Sainsbury’s.

Both sides are tight-lipped about the exact deals under discussion, but there are “endless opportunities”, says Sainsbury’s deputy chairman, Tom Vyner.

First fruit of the partnership is the offer of Air Miles for holders of Sainsbury’s new Reward Card, launched on Monday. But Air Miles are only the beginning of what both sides see as a long-term alliance.

Sainsbury’s plans to make its customer base “more accessible” to BA, and in the future, “by linking together we see several opportunities for joint development of products and services that our customers will not be able to receive elsewhere”, says Sainsbury’s marketing director Kevin McCarten.

BA chief executive Bob Ayling says: “We have done tactical promotions with Sainsbury’s before, so our relationship is not new. But this major partnership is.”

Sainsbury’s and BA are two of Britain’s leading brand names, with high duplication of customers and “the same ethos in terms of value and quality”, adds BA’s director of relationship marketing, Sarah Newman.

The Reward Card will add three per cent to Sainsbury’s sales, partly by stealing business from Tesco, McCarten predicts.

“Based upon the duplication and switching between the two companies, we are very confident we will pull significant business away from our main competitor,” he says. The card will need to generate sales growth of this magnitude to cover its costs.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman confirms the supermarket multiple’s products on BA flights “could be one of the things we offer. But it’s not in the bag yet”.

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