Aimia has announced that the company's future strategic direction will include evolving its positioning within the loyalty and travel markets through a combination of organic growth and sector-focused M&A - a strategy which has been approved by the board of directors because it represents "the optimal outcome most likely to generate the most attractive returns among the wide range of options considered". This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

The strategic business plan aims to build on Aimia's existing platforms, industry expertise and experience, along with a proven ability to drive operational improvement as well as the company's liquidity, capital and long-term approach.

A 'Special Committee' undertook a thorough review, in consultation with management and industry and financial advisors, and considered Aimia's competitive advantages and assets as well as the company's ability to execute the various alternatives and market opportunities.

Why Loyalty and Travel?
Loyalty and travel are vast and growing markets. Over the past three decades, loyalty memberships have experienced annual double digit growth. North American consumers now have almost billion loyalty memberships - with retail, travel and hospitality and financial services sectors representing 88% loyalty memberships in the US and 80% in Canada.

Other sectors and subscription programs are also gaining traction. International travel departures have grown from 0.7 billion to 1.6 billion over the last two decades as travel has come within reach of more consumers, making it a rich but fragmented industry accounting for over 10% of global GDP when including direct and indirect consequences. It is also one of the fastest growing industries, with over US$ billion invested in travel startups in 2017.

Aimia will be focused on growing earnings by maximizing the performance of the company's existing investments within travel loyalty (Club Premier and BIG Loyalty), by improving the performance of existing loyalty solutions assets (Insights and Loyalty Solutions and the Canadian Loyalty Solutions business), and by deploying capital to consolidate the loyalty solutions sub-sector as well as others within the larger loyalty and travel industries. A sector-focused, hands-on approach is expected to provide a competitive differentiator.

"The thorough analysis undertaken by the Special Committee with management has led us to the firm conclusion that there is a tremendous opportunity available to Aimia at this juncture in the evolution of the loyalty and travel sectors. A strong balance sheet, the ability to react quickly and our unique loyalty and travel sector expertise will differentiate Aimia as a strategic acquirer or investor in these markets over the longer term, while the company's tax assets can provide incremental value to acquisitions," said Bill McEwan, incoming Chairman of the Board of Directors. "Our capital allocation strategy will be two-pronged: returning capital to shareholders while retaining sufficient financial flexibility to execute on our strategy, which is expected to deliver very strong returns for the company and its stakeholders."