NEW YORK — GE Consumer Finance said Thursday it formed a new business unit, the Specialty Retail Group, as a way to serve midmarket companies with its co-branded and private label credit card programs.

The new unit is part of GE’s Retail Consumer Finance division, which provides retail credit card services to major retailers in the U.S. and Canada. The new group will focus on providing private label and co-branded credit programs to retailers with portfolios of up to $200 million. Services provided include customized marketing research, planning and execution support, integrated co-brand and loyalty programs and brand-specific customer service.

Paula Clayton is the vice president and general manager of the new division.

“Retailer-branded credit cards are unique in offering branded customer service, helping to generate incremental sales and gross margins,” observed Margaret Keane, president and chief executive officer of Retail Consumer Finance at GE Consumer Finance, in a statement.

Keane added, “Whether it’s loyalty initiatives, promotions or added incentives for the frequent shopper, a retail-branded card program helps drive sales.”

GE Consumer Finance has more than $117 billion in assets, and does business in 42 countries.

— Vicki M. Young

This story first appeared in the October 15, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.