Sainsbury’s has signed a new “long-term” contract with Aimia, the parent of loyalty programme Nectar.

The grocer said a record number of people used their Nectar cards to do their 2011 Christmas shop at Sainsbury’s, with £100m worth of points redeemed.

The contract lasts for seven years.

The grocer first signed up to the loyalty scheme, which has 11.5 million members, in 2002.

Sainsbury’s said the data it is able to collect through Nectar allows it to offer its customers “specific and relevant rewards and promotions which helps increase loyalty and also drives sales”.

Sainsbury’s also uses Nectar data to help when opening new stores, “by identifying potential locations and also to help determine what customers in that region will be buying”.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said: “We’re delighted to reaffirm our commitment to the UK’s largest and most popular loyalty program. Nectar has played an important role in our continued success.  Our unrivalled insight into shopper behaviour means we can help customers by giving them offers and promotions on the items they buy every day, while the scheme provides numerous ways to collect and redeem.” 

Aimia’s European and Middle East business president and chief executive David Johnston said: “Sainsbury’s will benefit from improved insight into what its customers want and deepening its relationships with its customers so that both benefit, now and in the future.”