Sainsbury’s exit jeopardises Shell Smart

Sainsbury’s has resigned from the Shell Smart card consortium, in a move which could cripple the entire scheme.

Another member, Allied Domecq, is “reviewing” its involvement.

The loss of one, and possibly two, retailers raises serious doubts about whether the project to create a multidimensional loyalty scheme – which also lost Ford last week – has a future.

“Shell has been very keen that the first bunch of partners have lots of retail products available,” says one source, unaware that Sainsbury’s has quit the scheme.

The resignations are said to be based on the preliminary findings of research conducted last year to assess the scheme’s value and the opportunities it offers. It has also been dogged by conflicts: the relationship between Sainsbury’s and Shell has been tense since the supermarket extended its own Reward Card to its petrol forecourts last year, in direct competition with Shell.

What was originally a six-strong consortium, formed last autumn, now has only two definite members – Shell and Cellnet. The sixth partner, Next, was unavailable for comment. Each of the six partners originally paid 50,000 into a central fund to develop the project.

Shell denies any changes, apart from Ford’s departure, and is believed to be looking for replacements.

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