In a very unexpected move, news came out today that Empire Company Limited, the parent corporation of Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, IGA and numerous other grocery and drug stores has become a co-owner in the Scene+ program. This will mark the end of the grocery empire’s involvement with the AIR MILES program. AIR MILES has counted Safeway and Eastern Canadian Sobeys stores as decades long partners and gained western Canadian stores which were aligned with Aeroplan after the Safeway takeover. Empire has now counted three major Canadian loyalty programs as partners! Over the coming months these stores that have currently been part of the AIR MILES program will move over to Scene+ starting no less than in the company’s own backyard, Atlantic Canada.
By August 2022 stores in Atlantic Canada should be participating in the Scene+ program and more will follow after that:
The Scene+ rollout will begin gradually with stores in Atlantic Canada in August 2022, and then continue across the rest of Canada
culminating in early 2023. Over time, Empire will roll
out Scene+ across its family of brands including Sobeys, Safeway,
Foodland, IGA, FreshCo, Chalo! FreshCo, Voilà by
Sobeys/Safeway/IGA, Needs, Thrifty Foods, Les Marchés Tradition, Rachelle Bery, and Lawtons Drugs. It will also eventually offer Scene+ at Empire’s network of liquor stores in Western Canada.
The Scene+ program counts 10 million members at the moment and that should grow significantly with this new partnership as shoppers loyal to Empire’s brands make the switch from AIR MILES to Scene+. Those new and of course existing members should be excited as the Scene+ program heralds some more flexibility in it than the AIR MILES program and will become even more flexible as they do state that not only will you earn Scene+ points at their stores but you will soon be able to redeem for groceries as well.
Scene+ provides over 10 million members with the flexibility to earn and
redeem points how they want for things like banking, movies,
entertainment, dining, travel, shopping and soon, grocery.
Earning will work just like it does with other Scene+ partners. You’ll show your Scene+ card to earn point when shopping at Empire’s stores plus you’ll earn even more if you use a Scotiabank Scene+ credit card to complete the double dip. This means some huge earning opportunities as the Scotia Gold American Express Card earns 5 points per dollar at grocery stores and then you’ll earn the Scene+ points from your loyalty card as well plus any bonuses they will be offering. It could prove to be very lucrative depending on what the non credit card earn rate for the program will be at their stores.
Why would Empire make the switch? Well it appears they got a pretty sweet deal. They become one third owner of the program without even laying out any cash. They get that ownership in part for providing its customer base to the program. Thus Scotiabank and Cineplex are expecting the program to grow well beyond its current size and were willing to give up a stake for that increased customer base. And for Empire the savings of not being part of AIR MILES should be huge as the cost associated with participating in that program are astronomical.
This should also put other programs in Canada on alert – namely PC Optimum seeing that Scene+ has more (and better) redemption options not to mention better credit cards as well. Out west, More Rewards which has been making great strides may need to change things up to compete with this new behemoth and all I can say is this is one more nail in the coffin for AIR MILES. They are losing one of their top three partners that are nationwide. They have already lost some major retailers over the past few years and now this will leave them with BMO and Shell as their only major day to day partners.
This is just the news Scotiabank and Cineplex need for their Scene+ program as the program got off to a shaky start (and technically still is) as so many credit card holders have had issues with points not posting. We’ve covered that quite a bit here on Rewards Canada (simply click on the Scene+ tag below to see the various articles) but we know the program is slowly emerging from those issues as member’s accounts are being fixed and credited with missing points. Now with this new ownership and partnership expansion the Scene+ program has scored big and will grow by leaps and bounds over the coming months.
Keep following Rewards Canada for continuing coverage of this news and all the latest updates in regards to earning and burning Scene+ points with Empire’s stores. Follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date!