G-III GOES TO CHINA: The G-III Apparel Group has signed an agreement with the Chinese government for joint ownership of a leather apparel factory in northern China and the right to market products manufactured at that factory throughout China.

G-III will own 39 percent of the plant, and the Chinese government, 61 percent. The company said the plant should be operational during the second quarter of this year. The pact is expected to lead to opening stores in China, also as a joint agreement.

The Chinese government has committed to finance the raw material for the leather apparel, with G-III responsible for quality control in purchasing and manufacturing, G-III said. The factory is expected to employ about 1,000 people.

Morris Goldfarb, chief executive officer of G-III, said the venture will enable the firm to improve profit margins and sourcing capabilities for its branded and private label divisions, as well as opening the door to market leather products in China.

SEARLE DONATES TO CANCER RESEARCH: In honor of New York University Medical Center's Cancer Awareness Month, Searle has donated $100,000 toward breast cancer research at NYU's Kaplan Comprehensive Medical Center here. The gift represents 10 percent of Searle's February sales at its five stores in Manhattan.

Rick Weinstein, director of sales and marketing for Searle stores, said sales were boosted by Alice's Friends, Searle's exclusive custom service salon at its store on Madison Avenue and East 84th Street, where 125 customers, who were invited for one-on-one shopping for a two-week period, totaled $300,000 in sales. This helped produce a 40 percent increase in the month's sales over last year, Weinstein said.

Michael Stoler, chairman-elect of the development committee of the Kaplan Medical Center, said the donation was part of Searle's corporate sponsorship of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in February. The stores also helped pay for ads and used in-store signs to promote free screenings for breast, prostate and skin cancer.

Weinstein, the son of Searle principals Alice and Steve Blatt and a member of the development committee, said his mother suggested the sponsorship after talking with many of the stores' customers who had been affected by the disease.MADRIS TAKES OVER NY 10018: Richard Madris, a partner in Listeff Fashions, has taken the helm of the firm's NY 10018 active outerwear division. Madris, who also heads the company's Winlit leather outerwear unit, has taken over the responsibilities of Bill Hollman, who left the company after a year as division head.

Wendy Keitel-Siegel, who has been with the firm in various sales posts since 1986, has been named sales manager for NY 10018. Now entering its second year, the polar-fleece-based line features casual jackets and coats carrying the NY 10018 and other ZIP code logos.

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