LI & FUNG PROFITS UP SLIGHTLY: Sourcing powerhouse Li & Fung Ltd. said its first-half profits rose 0.6 percent to $43.6 million, on a 5.4 percent increase in sales to $1.83 billion. (Dollar amounts are converted from the Hong Kong dollar at current exchange rates.)The Hong Kong-based company blamed the slowdown in the U.S. economy for the slow growth, but said it expected results to improve in the second half."The group’s sales in the first half largely reflects customers’ orders taken in the second half of 2001, which was a very difficult period," said William K. Fung, group managing director. "Orders taken in the first half are pointing towards a good improvement."MACK GOES SOLO: After 31 years in the textile industry, most recently with major New York converters, Ronnie Mack this month opened his own company, Jill Edwards International. The New York-based firm will be converting domestic and foreign-made fabric, and offering full-package garment production from countries including China, Taiwan and Korea. Prior to this venture, Mack spent 2-1/2 years as vice president of Saxon Textile Corp., a post he left in mid-August. Before that, he spent 18 years at Majestic Mills.DIRECTING VALDESE: Robert Peck has been named national director of sales and marketing at Valdese Textiles. He was formerly the West Coast head of sales for the Valdese, N.C.-based vertical mill. Peck said he plans to bring in new fabrics, such as those made with Tencel lyocell and other sheer, free-flowing fabrics. "We’re going to bring some newer, better styling and more updated fabrics into the jacquard market," Peck said.

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