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CalMart Exec Leaving to Join Swimwear Firm

September 19, 1997|GEORGE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CaliforniaMart President Maurice "Corky" Newman, who helped rebuild the tenant base at the Los Angeles apparel showroom center, said Thursday that he is leaving the post to become chairman and chief operating officer of Sirena Apparel Group, a South El Monte-based swimwear producer.

The move is effective Sept. 29. Susan Scheimann, vice president of marketing and leasing at CaliforniaMart, has been named acting president.

"It's time to move on and get back into the industry I grew up in," said Newman, who was executive vice president at Sirena when he left in 1977. He also held executive posts at Cole of California, Calvin Klein Industries and Cherokee Group.

"We were brought in to get CaliforniaMart back on its feet and we've done that."

CaliforniaMart had an occupancy rate of 67% when Newman took the reins in 1994. At that time, the facility was suffering from the disappearance of such local retail chains as Broadway and Bullock's. With fewer chains--and fewer retail buyers visiting the showrooms--CaliforniaMart had difficulty retaining tenants.

Apparel industry sources said Newman helped raise the occupancy rate to 78%, in part by diversifying the tenant base. For example, the facility houses an apparel design center for Westchester-based Otis School of Art and Design. Other tenants, including textile manufacturers and producers of gift items, also acquired showrooms.

In addition, Newman presided over a $20-million facility remodeling that was completed in October 1996. "It's a very positive legacy," said Ilse Metchek, executive director of the Los Angeles-based California Fashion Assn., an apparel manufacturing trade group.

Sirena is the nation's fifth-largest swimwear manufacturer. It produces its own labels and is licensed to produce swimwear lines for Liz Claiborne and Anne Klein.

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