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Sears in deal to sell Kenmore appliances on Amazon

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New York (AFP)

Slumping US retailer Sears announced an agreement Thursday to sell appliances from its Kenmore line on Amazon, a move that is expected to stiffen competition for other brick-and-mortar stores.

Under the deal, Amazon would offer the most extensive platform for Kenmore products outside of Sears stores and websites, the company said.

The iconic Kenmore's brand includes refrigerators, dishwashers, grills and vacuums.

"The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the US," said Sears chief executive Edward Lampert said in a news release.

"We continuously look for opportunities to enhance the reach of our iconic brands."

The partnership will allow customers to integrate "smart" Kenmore appliances with Amazon's artificial intelligence program Alexa, enabling customers to turn up their air conditioner "without leaving the sofa," Sears said.

Alexa Smart home director Charlie Kindel welcomed the move.

"We're excited that Kenmore has added Alexa functionality to these products and we think customers will love the convenience of cooling their home, starting their laundry, and more, using only their voice," he said.

While it may be good news for Kenmore, the development is another sign of the waning of brick and mortar retailers. Sears has closed hundreds of stores in recent years amid a retail shakeout caused in part by the rise of Amazon and other e-commerce players.

Sears investors cheered the move, lifting shares by 12.3 percent to $9.75 in mid-morning trading.

But shares of other retailers that sell home appliances tumbled on concerns over the stepped-up competition with Amazon and the potential impact on profits.

Dow member Home Depot lost 4.6 percent, Lowe's sank 5.8 percent and Best Buy dropped 4.3 percent.

Amazon shares rose 0.3 percent.

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