Creation of new Group COO role leverages existing capabilities and enhances global focusMONTREAL, Feb. 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Aimia Inc. (TSX: AIM) today announced changes to its global leadership team that build on its existing strengths and will enable the company's strategic aspirations as the recognized global leader in loyalty management. Effective immediately, David Johnston, currently EVP, President & CEO EMEA, will assume the newly created role of Group COO, reporting into Group CEO Rupert Duchesne. As Group COO, Johnston will drive further development of the company's global operating model, building on the strengths of our regional businesses and harnessing the changes which have seen Aimia grow from less than 1,500 employees at the end of 2008 to over 4,000 employees in 20 countries today. "Operational efficiency and effectiveness are critical to Aimia's ongoing success. This organizational evolution will allow the enterprise to continue on our growth trajectory while also building innovative products and services and ensuring delivery of operational excellence across our significant global footprint," said Rupert Duchesne, Group CEO. "David's proven track record of delivering growth across multiple platforms and geographies will sharpen the focus that Aimia needs to evolve into a truly global organization." The leaders of Aimia's key operating regions, Canada, EMEA, US, and Asia Pacific, will continue to drive regional strategy, operations and execution. They will report into the Group COO role to facilitate more collaboration and leverage the best of Aimia for our global clients. As Group COO, Johnston will also continue to be responsible for Global Business Development. In his most recent role at Aimia, Johnston has led the European region to double digit growth while also leading global business development efforts in emerging markets including India, Chile and Brazil. He joined Aimia in 2010 from a long tenure at Pepsico International where he held a number of senior marketing and general management positions. Concurrent with the creation of the Group COO role, Liz Graham, currently on a medical leave of absence, will return later this year to the role of Executive Vice President, Operations & Strategic Initiatives. This role encompasses Ms. Graham's current responsibilities including overseeing the global CIO office, and is expanded to also include development and delivery of Aimia's scalable and efficient product set, supporting client needs and business growth. Jan-Pieter Lips, currently Managing Director, Nectar UK and RMMEL, will step up as President for the EMEA Region. He becomes a member of the global Executive Committee with immediate effect, reporting to the Group COO. A Dutch national who has worked in the UK since 2003, Jan-Pieter is one of the pioneers of the loyalty management industry in Europe, having started his career with Loyalty Management Group in the Netherlands in 1997. Melissa Sonberg, Senior Vice President, Global Brand, Communications and External Affairs and a Founding Executive who stewarded the company's IPO process, and previously led the Human Resources, Public Affairs, IR, CSR and Legal functions, has announced her intention to retire from the organization during the fourth quarter following a transition of her current responsibilities. All appointments are effective immediately and all other roles remain unchanged.