Qantas Frequent Flyer moves into online retail with Wishlist.com.au acquisition

Qantas will be moving into online retail, it has announced, after acquiring employee reward and recognition program manager Wishlist Holdings, in a deal that will see the Qantas Frequent Flyer program take control of the company.

The deal will mean Qantas will now operate a subsidiary that manages the reward programs for more than 80 companies including Optus and Telstra. It is understood that Wishlist has more than $30 million in revenue, with Qantas to take control of the Wishlist.com.au site as well.

Both Qantas and Wishlist were contacted this morning by SmartCompany, but neither were available prior to publication. Wishlist chief executive Huy Troung was also contacted.

QFF head Simon Hickey has told the Australian Financial Review that the move into online retail will be bolstered by more possible acquisitions during the rest of the year.

“This was an acquisition which was designed to get us into a market. It’s a different market, but leveraging the same capabilities,” he said.

“Ultimately what we’re about is managed growth in areas that leverage our capabilities and current position in the market. I always like to stay in front of the competition; make it harder for people to try and catch up.”

Wishlist was founded in 1999 by Troung, who is a partner at Yarra Capital Partners and has been involved in a number of different roles including executive chairman at Australian Life Insurance Group, and the Australian Glass Group.

Wishlist now has over 250,000 members worldwide, and also controls evoucher.com.au, acquired in 2003. That subsidiary has agreements with over 120 local retailers.

The move comes as Qantas is attempting to restructure its flailing international business model, which is causing the airline to haemorrhage money. It has also been under attack from rival Virgin, which is targeting business customers with its own rewards program.

Qantas Frequent Flyer has been a success story for the airline, raising over $1 billion in revenue thanks to deals with major retailers.

Reports also indicate that Qantas is now searching for similar sized online retail operator after finalising the Wishlist deal.

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