Sir Keith Mills, GBE DL (b. 1950) is the English entrepreneur who is chiefly known for inventing the Air Miles and Nectar Card loyalty card schemes, and key roles in the London 2012 Olympic campaign and Organising Committee.
Keith was born in Brentwood, Essex and left school aged 15 with no qualifications. He found a job as copy assistant with The Economist, and later worked for the Financial Times and Investors Chronicle, where he was responsible for their marketing programmes. From here, he moved into advertising and in 1981 led a management buyout of the London office of New York-based Nadler & Larimer, becoming the chief executive. In 1985, he co-founded Mills, Smith & Partners. In 1987, with Shell and British Caledonian on his books, and both looking to make the most of their customer base without devaluing the image of the products, he conceived the idea of Air Miles. He approached British Airways and they liked the idea, which went on to prove very popular among customers and soon took off elsewhere. In 1994, he sold his 49% sharehold of the scheme to BA.
Under Keith’s chairmanship, Loyalty Management UK launched the Nectar Card in 2002 with Sainsbury’s and BP as the earliest members. The loyalty points scheme became highly popular and now includes Expedia, Hertz and easyJet amongst its many members. In 2007, the Loyalty Management Group – in which Keith held 46% of sharehold – was sold for £350m to the Canadian company Aeroplan.
In 2003, Keith became Chief Executive and International President of the London 2012 campaign which saw London selected as host for the 2012 Summer Olympics. He also held the position of Deputy Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. He was knighted in 2006 in recognition of his services to sport, and appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 2013 for services to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Sir Keith was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2008.