A woman and child ride the escalator at a Sears store in St. Paul, Minn. (Jim Mone / Associated Press)
will begin selling its appliances on Amazon.com, including smart appliances that can be synced with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa.
The announcement Thursday sent shares of Sears soaring more than 18% at the opening bell. The tie-up with the internet behemoth could give shares of the storied retailer one of its biggest one-day percentage gains ever.
Sears, which also owns Kmart, said that its Kenmore Smart appliances will be fully integrated with Amazon’s Alexa, allowing users to use voice commands for air conditioners and other controls.
“The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S.,” Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert said in a company release.
Sears has struggled with weak sales for years, and announced more store closings earlier this month, partly due to the emergence of Amazon and other Internet operators. Sears had said in March that there was “substantial doubt” it could continue after years of bleeding money.
Many on Thursday took the agreement with Amazon as a lifeline, with the volume of trading in Sears shares just before the opening bell enormous.
Amazon has changed the face of retail since it became a public company more than 20 years ago. It recently began offering discounts on its Prime membership for people who receive government assistance, making a play for the low-income shoppers at places like Walmart. And it announced last month that it was testing a new wardrobe service that lets members of its Prime program try on styles before they put items on their charge card — at no upfront fee.
Shares of Sears Holdings, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., just outside Chicago, jumped $1.62 to $10.30 when trading began.