Tesco is teaming up with the Thai division of US giant General Electric to launch a credit card for shoppers in Thailand this summer. Tesco and GE Capital, General Electric's financial arm, will form a £32m joint venture company to set up and administer the Tesco Lotus own label credit card, following the lines of the partnership in the UK with the Royal Bank of Scotland. The joint venture will recruit about 50 staff with sales expected to triple in three years. Customers will get 50 days' interest free credit on all purchases. Tesco Lotus chief executive Michael Raycraft said the card would build on the success of the customer incentive scheme launched last year and boost loyalty to stores in an increasingly competitive retail environment. GE Capital Retail Services md Dan Harsono said the company was hoping to attract 200,000 applicants for the card by the end of the year as the monthly income threshold is so low (£80). Tesco is also stepping up its presence in the Thai capital this year with three new stores opening shortly at Ratchada Ramma III, Bangna Trad and Prachachuen in Bangkok. Three more hypermarkets in outlying areas will open this year to take Tesco's Thai estate to 33 stores. The expansion will create another 7,000 jobs by 2004. The Thai stores average 100,000 sq ft with up to 93% of goods sourced locally. Tesco entered Thailand in 1998 with the purchase of the Lotus hypermarket chain. Now Tesco's lead country' in Asia, Thailand moved into profit last year. The 500,000 sq ft state-of- the-art distribution centre at Wangnoi operates on a 24 hour rotation with the capacity to handle over 500,000 cases at a time. {{NEWS }}