Shoppers reap a new dividend

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The Co-op will reintroduce its famous "Divi" in Scotland today as the supermarket loyalty battle hots up.

The Divi - short for dividend - is worth 5p for every pounds 1 spent on Co- op brands and could be worth pounds 6m to customers over the next 12 months.

A swipe card Divi was launched last May in Northern Ireland where pounds 640,000 has been handed out so far. If Scotland is a success the scheme is expected to be extended to selected Co-op regions in England.

It is seen a competitor to supermarket loyalty cards and every pounds 100 spent earns pounds 5 and raises money for local causes. This compares to a value of pounds 1 per pounds 100 spent offered by Sainsbury's, Tesco and Safeway, says the Co-op.

Iain McLeod, the Co-op's head of marketing, said: "For some time we have wanted to reintroduce the Divi, for which we are famous. Thanks to the technology now available, we were able to do that last year in all our stores in Northern Ireland with spectacular results.

"Rather than opting for the incentive schemes run by our competitors, we are offering cash to our customers and help for good causes."

The Divi was first introduced in 1844 as a payment made from a Co-op society's profits to members which was related to goods bought. It died out in the 1960s and 1970s because of high administrative costs.

As part of today's move, dividend cards have been mailed to 90,000 Co- op members and are available to customers at all 155 Co-op food stores in Scotland.

Every receipt will show the cash dividend earned and this will be paid twice yearly - in July and December. Customers will be sent vouchers which can be used in Co-op stores or exchanged for cash.