Keith Mills

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Sir Keith Mills

Mills in July 2010
BornMay 1950 (age 73)
EducationSt Martin's School, Brentwood

Sir Keith Edward Mills, GBE DL (born 15 May, 1950) is an English entrepreneur and was deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Early life[edit]

Mills was born in Brentwood. He attended St Martin's School, Brentwood on Hanging Hill Lane in Hutton, Brentwood.


Mills worked for over twenty years in marketing and advertising. Having left school with no qualifications, he started with The Economist at the age of fifteen as a copy assistant and then at the Financial Times and Investors Chronicle, where he was responsible for their marketing programmes. From there, he moved into advertising in London. In 1981, he led a management buyout of the London office of the New York-based company Nadler & Larimer, becoming the chief executive. In 1985, he co-founded Mills, Smith & Partners.

He was also a non-executive director at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club but stepped down in January 2016.[1]

In 2011, Mills was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) from the University of Bath.[2] He received an Honorary Degree from the University of Essex in 2013.[3]

Loyalty cards[edit]

Mills is chiefly known for inventing the Air Miles (in 1988) and Nectar Card (in 2002) loyalty card schemes. Similar "frequent flyer" schemes had been launched in the US in May 1981 by American Airlines and United Airlines.[4]

Air Miles[edit]

Air Miles was set up in 1988 when Mills started the Loyalty Management Group, then known as Air Miles International Group BV. He had the idea in 1987 when working at his advertising agency, which had Shell and British Caledonian as clients who were looking to make the most of their customer base without devaluing the image of the products. People would buy Air Miles from Shell petrol to use on British Caledonian. He approached British Airways and they liked the idea. He then sold similar ideas in the United States and Canada, moving to the United States in 1990. In 1993, the US Air Miles system collapsed, costing him £15 million. In 1994, his 49% share of the scheme was sold to British Airways, although he still retains the intellectual property rights.

Nectar Card[edit]

Loyalty Management UK was started in 2001, which produced the Nectar Card in September,[5] 2002. In December 2007, the company was sold for £350m to the Canadian company Aeroplan, in which he had 46% of sharehold, netting £160m.


From September 2003, he became chief executive and international president of the London 2012 campaign, which saw London selected as host for the 2012 Summer Olympics. He served as deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. At the end of the project, Mills was awarded the Olympic Order.[6] He later set up the charity Sported with £10 million of his own money to deliver on London 2012's legacy promises.[7]

National Lottery[edit]

In 2020, SAZKA Group, Europe’s largest lottery operator, announced it had appointed Sir Keith Mills as Bid Chair of the UK team for the Fourth National Lottery Licence Competition. In March 2022, following a "fair, open and robust competition",[8] the Gambling Commission named Allwyn as their preferred applicant. In January 2023, the Gambling Commission approved the acquisition of Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd. by Allwyn, with Sir Keith being appointed Chairman of Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd in February 2023 when the transaction was completed.[9]

Coutts AIG action[edit]

The same month that Loyalty Management UK was sold, Mills bought £73m of the "enhanced fund" version of AIG Life "premier bonds" on the advice of Coutts, the private bank owned by Royal Bank of Scotland. Coutts recommended to Mills that he place his money in AIG Life Premier Bonds as a way of protecting his capital.[10] They also said it would be a safe alternative to bank deposits and would earn a slightly better interest rate. Coutts said Mills' money would be safe, as AIG was the largest insurance company in the world, AA rated, and that the bonds would provide instant access to his money, just like a deposit account. Later, given the negative press reports about the future of AIG, Mills queried Coutts, in writing, the safety of keeping his money with AIG. Coutts replied that they did not have concerns about these bonds, so Mills retained them. AIG Life is a UK subsidiary of American International Group, the US insurer rescued by the US Federal Reserve on 16 September 2008.

Personal life[edit]

He married Maureen in 1974; they have two children and live near Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Lady Mills supports her husband's charity work and support for sports, including the successful bid for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.[11]

He enjoys sailing. In 1999, he was member of a team captained by Alex Thomson that won the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, and in 2002, he skippered his Oyster 485 yacht in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. He founded Team Origin in 2007, and is a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club.


Mills was knighted in the 2006 New Years Honours List in recognition of his services to sport. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 2013 New Years Honours List for services to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.[12][13] He was appointed a deputy lieutenant for the County of Kent in September 2008. This gave him the Post Nominal Letters "DL" for Life.


  1. ^ "Sir Keith Mills". Tottenham Hotspur F.C. 29 January 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". University of Bath. Archived from the original on 19 December 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Sir Keith Mills receives Honorary Degree from the University of Essex - News - University of Essex". Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  4. ^ "A Brief History of Airline Frequent Flyer Programmes - the Points Guy".
  5. ^ HBR, 5 December 2005, 9-505-031
  6. ^ "Thank you, London! – Olympic News". International Olympic Committee. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  7. ^ Ingle, Sean (4 January 2019). "'Lives have been transformed' – the entrepreneur who put £10m into grassroots sport". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  8. ^ Sweney, Mark (15 March 2022). "Camelot to lose licence to run UK national lottery after 28 years". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  9. ^ Fletcher, Robert (6 February 2023). "Allwyn completes Camelot UK Lotteries acquisition". iGB. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  10. ^ Jones, Adam (28 July 2009). "Sir Keith counts the cost of a weak link". Financial Times. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Lady Maureen Mills - sported". Archived from the original on 7 September 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  12. ^ Cabinet Office (28 December 2012). "New Year Honours: New Year 2013 Honours List – Higher Awards" (PDF). Cabinet Office. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  13. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 6.

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