…as Somerfield plans marketing alliance with Southern Electric

Supermarket chain Somerfield is entering talks with energy company Southern Electric to forge the first marketing partnership between a utility and a grocery chain.

Talks between the two companies will begin “in the near future” and will examine ways of exploiting links they both have through Argos Premier Points. The two are partners in the loyalty scheme.

Discussions will look at the possibility of Somerfield marketing Southern’s domestic electricity and gas supply through leaflets and ads in its customer magazine.

The partnership could lead to Southern adding a barcode to its bills so they can be paid through Somerfield’s stores. Customers would earn Premier Points from such activities.

Last week, Southern announced it is to join the Argos Premier Points scheme. This offers cards to shoppers on which they can amass loyalty points from purchases made at Argos stores, Somerfield supermarkets and Mobil and BP petrol stations. The loyalty points can be exchanged for goods from the Argos catalogue.

The alliance between Argos and Southern Electric means customers signing up for the company’s gas and electricity supply in the newly deregulated markets will receive a block of Argos Premier Points. There will also be the chance for further strategic links between Southern and other Argos partners.

A spokesman for Somerfield says: “This opens a myriad of opportunities which will need to be fully investigated and we look forward to discussions with our new partner in the near future.”

Southern Electric marketing something Alan Oxley says “everything is possible” but adds there is “no immediate intention” to pursue bill payment.

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