Lovells has been drawn into the retail sector’s obsession with customer loyalty schemes after advising Loyalty Management UK (LMUK) on its high-profile launch of the Nectar card. The loyalty card, a joint venture between Sainsbury’s, Barclaycard, BP and Debenhams, was launched to much publicity on 16 September. The unveiling of Nectar, which experienced computer glitches within hours of its launch, is the culmination of 18 months of work by a Lovells team led by corporate finance partner Peter Watts. Commenting on the fact that online registration was suspended due to a rush of customer interest, Watts said: “It’s operational, rather than [to do with] the legal side.” He added: “One of the things we were worried about [before the launch] was that we were looking on the bright side. But if anything, it turned out to be too successful and too popular, too quickly, which is a good problem to have.” In the past Lovells has worked closely with Loyalty Management International (LMI), which has established large coalition loyalty programmes in the Netherlands, Spain, the Middle East and Canada. LMI was responsible for setting up LMUK for the Nectar project. The Nectar deal involved advising on contracts with the four main companies behind the project but also liaising with 30 major businesses with which customers will be able to redeem their Nectar points. The Nectar scheme, which hopes to attract 17 million members in its first year, also entailed grappling with one of the UK’s largest outsourcing projects as well as handling the £50m worth of private equity funding that was invested in LMUK by Warburg Pincus. The Nectar project, which is hoping to take on the likes of Tesco’s Clubcard and Boots’ Advantage scheme, also meant a rush of work for other firms, including Denton Wilde Sapte which acted for longstanding client Sainsbury’s.