CALIFORNIA MART LOSING NEWMAN TO SIRENA

Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — Maurice (Corky) Newman, an apparel industry veteran who led the reenergizing of the California Mart, has resigned as its president and chief executive officer to become chairman and chief operating officer of The Sirena Apparel Group.
His new job is effective Oct. 15.
Susan Scheimann, the Mart’s vice president of marketing and leasing, has been named acting president.
Newman’s post at swimwear maker Sirena is new. He will be responsible for operations; Douglas Arbetman, president and ceo, will oversee design, merchandising and sales.
“I started my career there [at Sirena] and I’m going back to my roots in the swimwear business,” Newman said. “It’s always a challenge to take a public company and grow with it.”
In the fiscal year ended June 30, Sirena posted a loss of $1.98 million against a loss of $4.4 million the year before. The latest year included special charges of $1.3 million. Sales in the year were off 11.1 percent to $43.7 million from $49.2 million.
In the current fiscal year, the firm is launching a licensed Liz Claiborne swimwear line. It also makes swimwear and coverups under the Anne Klein, Hot Water, WearAbouts and Sirena Kids labels and does private label, too.
Newman faced a big challenge in 1994 when he took the helm at the California Mart, which was still reeling from foreclosure by The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S.
“Everyone said not to take the job [at the Mart] because it was dying on the vine,” Newman said. “We’ve done a good job of turning it around and changing the perception of who we are, plus occupancy has increased by 10 to 15 percent.”
Among his achievements at the Mart, Newman coordinated the $14 million renovation of the building, reinstated the California Collections Preview Spring in October and added an international division, a retail development department, an on-site video-conferencing center and Look Fast Forward, a young contemporary men’s and women’s trade show.
The results of the extensive renovations were revealed last September. They included a 1,100-seat fashion theater, a new Buyer’s Club and a $7 million renovation of the lobby. Newman joined Sirena in 1964 as vice president and national sales manager. He left as executive vice president 10 years later to join Cole of California. In 1977 Newman became president and ceo of Cole. In 1985 Newman joined Calvin Klein Industries as president and ceo of the Puritan Division, which was then the designer’s jeans division, and executive vice president of Calvin Klein Industries.
He returned to California in 1987 and joined the Cherokee Group as president of corporate marketing and licensing, a position he held for seven years.

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