Somerfield has axed its loyalty card scheme ­ and joined Asda and Safeway in claiming such initiatives have lost credibility among shoppers. The troubled chain has been issuing Argos Premier Points since 1996. But chief executive Alan Smith has now called time on the card, which gives out rewards in the form of £5 Argos vouchers. Somerfield will stop issuing points on February 13. Its customers have until 2003 to redeem their vouchers. "We believe that loyalty card schemes have less and less credibility. And we can use that marketing money more effectively," Smith said. Smith claimed the decision to pull out of Premier Points would save Somerfield a "significant sum". He would not comment further, but analysts believe it could be as much as £10m a year. Smith said Somerfield was not alone in wanting to ditch loyalty cards: "Sainsbury would like to cancel their scheme ­ but daren't. Tesco is probably wedded to it ­ and they use the data well. "But our card does not provide us with data and is simply a form a discounting." Last year, Somerfield started trials of two new loyalty card schemes in 20 stores in the south west. The schemes, dubbed Somerfield Points, were designed to provide Somerfield with data on the spending habits of its shoppers. These trials are also set to end, following the decision to axe the tie up with Argos Premier Points. Smith claimed there was another benefit to ditching the loyalty scheme: checkout performance would improve as staff would no longer have to faff about with the cards. {{NEWS }}