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Report: Amazon to test Australian ops; US officials urge duty on washer imports

TOP NEWS

* Amazon.com Inc. plans to begin a trial run of retail operations in Australia on Nov. 23, a local merchant confirmed to Reuters in a Nov. 22 report. An email was reportedly sent from the e-commerce giant to merchants signed up on Amazon Marketplace, telling them that they should prepare to receive orders starting at 2 p.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time on Nov. 23.

* Imports of large residential washing machines, including those produced outside the U.S. by Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics Inc., could be subject to new tariffs under a new structure unveiled Nov. 21 by the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ruling stems from a safeguard petition that Whirlpool Corp. filed with the ITC in May. In a statement, Samsung commended the ITC for not recommending higher tariffs originally proposed by Whirlpool. But the company said it believes that "no remedy is necessary." LG said imposing the tariffs "will only hurt consumers by raising prices and decreasing choices."

APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* French luxury goods company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE said it will acquire a majority stake in Colgin Cellars vineyard in Napa Valley, Calif. The company will buy a 60% stake from the vineyard's founder, Ann Colgin, and her husband, Joe Wender. LVMH did not disclose financial terms or a timeline for the deal.

* Under Armour Inc. Senior Vice President of Footwear Peter Ruppe is leaving the company amid the retailer's sales slump, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a company spokeswoman.

* U.S. specialty retailer J. Crew Group Inc. expects to shut about 50 stores within fiscal 2017, up from its previous estimate of at least 30 closures during the period. J. Crew's Madewell brand reported a 13% rise in comparable sales in the third quarter ended Oct. 28, an increase that was offset by a 12% fall in its namesake brand.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* U.S. discount retailer Target Corp. will offer a 15% sitewide discount on its e-commerce platform on Cyber Monday as part of its plans for Cyber Week, which will begin Nov. 26. The company said the discount will go live on its website on the morning of Nov. 27.

E-COMMERCE

* Chinese e-commerce giant JD.Com Inc. will bring customized advertising to television screens with its JD Smart TV Screen Alliance, which enables smart TV owners to connect their JD.com accounts with their sets. Users will be able to purchase products shown in the advertising feed or items featured while watching TV shows directly and also receive advertising based on previous browsing and shopping habits on JD.com.

* U.K. online fashion retailer ASOS Plc expanded its same-day delivery service ASOS Instant to selected areas in Leeds and Manchester. Availability in other cities in the U.K. is expected to follow in 2018, ASOS said.

* Chinese online travel service provider Ctrip.com International Ltd. partnered with Japanese restaurant reservation portal Vesper to help Chinese tourists make reservations at restaurants while visiting Japan, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. About 6.37 million Chinese tourists reportedly visited Japan in 2016, and over 4 million of them used Ctrip's services.

SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Swedish furniture retailer IKEA Group revamped its June 2016 recall of 29 million dressers following the death of another child, the eighth fatality within 28 years, The Independent reported. Ikea CEO Lars Petersson reportedly said the company launched an "extensive communication" campaign to increase consumers' awareness of the recall. The company and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are requesting that customers secure the items with Ikea's free wall-mounting kits or return them for a full refund.

* Sony Computer Science Laboratories, a unit of Japanese electronics company Sony Corp., launched a joint venture called Ghelia to serve as a platform for companies seeking to integrate artificial intelligence into their businesses, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Japanese AI firm UEI and startup incubator World Innovation Lab reportedly are the co-founders.

* Hong Kong-based jewelry store chain Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. aims to open 35 to 45 points of sale in mainland China in its fiscal second half ending March 31, 2018, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing a company presentation. The company reportedly plans to open a total of 140 to 150 stores in mainland China in the fiscal year.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* A majority of U.K. retailers continue to be confident about the holiday season as 71% forecast trading to be similar or better than 2016, according to a Barclays PLC survey. The survey also found that 49% of the respondents expect revenue to grow during the holidays, with gift cards, health and beauty, electricals and homeware items driving sales.

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