GE Capital to compete with UK banks

GE Capital to compete with UK banks

GE Capital, the global finance company, is planning to set up a direct financial services operation to sell current accounts and mortgages to UK storecard holders.

Ten million UK adults hold GE Capital-backed store cards from retailers including Asda, Debenhams and Harrods.

GE's store card business in the UK suffered from declining consumer interest and direct competition from UK banks' for retailer business. Barclaycard, for instance, has stepped in to take over the running of House of Fraser's one million store cards in 2007 after GE baulked at paying an £18 million fee to renew the contract.

GE Capital UK boss Brad Cooper told Sunday broadsheet The Observer that the firm is responding to the challenge by drawing up plans to cross-sell other financial services to cardholders via the Internet and telephone.

"Once we have customers in through the credit and store cards we want them to use us for their other financial services," Cooper told the paper. "We have been providing finances to those customers via retailers and other intermediaries and now we will rebrand as GE Money and become a direct provider."

He says the firm is currently discussing the rebranding exercise with a number of advertising agencies and has pencilled in a launch date for September. GE Money will initially concentrate on sales of loans and mortgages, says Cooper, with current accounts introduced later.

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