Britain's largest food and apparel retailer Marks & Spencer is currently trialling a combined credit and customer loyalty card after more than a decade of opposition to the concept.

The traditionalist retail giant, a UK household name for over a century, has long rejected the idea of a loyalty card – as it did credit cards which it reluctantly started to accept in 2000 following a disastrous slide in market share, profits and stock price

The card, currently on pilot in South Wales, offers the usual credit facilities plus points on all purchases via the card – even if used at rival retailers. Cardholders receive one loyalty point for every £1 spent at an M&S store and £2 at other outlets. If successful – an outcome about which M&S declares itself “fairly confident” – the scheme will rollout nationally in 2003.

According to M&S Financial Services ceo Laurel Powers-Freeling, the trial is the first stage in delivering a totally new credit and loyalty reward package. “We have extensively researched our customer base to understand what our shoppers want from a credit product and believe that our offer reflects these findings through an exciting mix of credit and loyalty,” she enthused.

Among the customer delights on offer are a quarterly statement detailing spend and points earned, reward vouchers redeemable instore, and a personalized magazine that features special offers customized to individual shopping preferences.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff