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Loyalty scheme to bring rewards to more towns

A reward card scheme for independent retailers has prompted a wave of interest from 12 towns across the UK after a successful pilot over the past year.

Haslemere Rewards was launched in the Surrey town of Haslemere in November 2005, and has been renewed for another year, starting on March 1.

Of the 30 businesses that founded the loyalty scheme, 28 have decided to continue with the programme and 6,000 cardholders have signed up - about 35% of the local population. Nearby department store Manns of Cranleigh has also joined.

The renewal has sparked interest in setting up schemes in other similar-sized towns, with enquiries from Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Oxfordshire. At least two towns are understood to be close to signing deals.

Clothing and footwear retailers in Haslemere are positive about the card's impact on their business. One said: "It's brilliant and we are very happy with it. Being a children's shoe shop, where people spend a fair amount of money, it doesn't take long for our customers to get their maximum points and then they get £15 off a non-Sale purchase."

Lyn Bett, joint owner of Cyril Queen Shoes, also said the rewards programme had been successful. However, she added: "It is difficult to quantify the benefit. It is probably more in terms of community spirit, but I think it is having a good effect on us all."

Haslemere Rewards was set up by technology provider Savvy UK in conjunction with Haslemere Initiative, a local project aimed at promoting the town, and the British Shops and Stores Association.

Savvy UK sales director Jon Chrimes said many similar card schemes had failed because they were "either hellishly expensive" or didn't work. "They are either too good for the customer or too good for the retailer, but not for both," he said.

He added that flexibility was a major advantage of the card. Customers pay £5 to sign up to the scheme, and they then receive either points or a discount, with redemption of points limited to the store where they were accumulated. Individual retailers can set the level of rewards as they wish.

The scheme received the 2006 National Award from the Action for Market Towns organisation.

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