CALIFORNIAMART CEO TO EXIT AFTER SALE

Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — Susan Scheimann, president and chief executive officer of the CaliforniaMart, told WWD that she is leaving her post, effective upon the sale of the mart to its new owners.
As reported, Hertz Investment Group is in escrow to purchase the three-million-square-foot property that Scheimann has headed for the past two-and-a-half years. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the week.
On Tuesday, there were also reports circulating that at least four members of the mart’s executive staff would be leaving, as well. Mart officials could not be reached for comment.
Noting that it was premature to confirm her career plans, Scheimann hinted that she will be involved in the apparel industry at a business-to-business Internet company.
“It is time to step to the next thing, and I’m very excited,” she said. “There is room for only one strategist at a time.”
Scheimann began her career at the mart in November 1994 as executive director of marketing. In 1996, she was named vice president of marketing and leasing and in early 1998 she was named president and ceo.
“In spite of all of the difficulties in the industry, like consolidations and closures, from 1998 to the present, there has been exciting growth, particularly in the contemporary market,” Scheimann said. “One of my frustrations in 1994 was that young designers didn’t want to produce and work in L.A., but that has changed.”
As proof, the mart now boasts a 100 percent occupancy rate in the contemporary areas on the fifth floor. When Scheimann joined in 1994, less than 10 percent of the contemporary area was leased.
Under Scheimann’s tenure, the mart’s textile base has also grown. Textile showrooms now account for 100,000 square feet of leased space at the mart, according to Scheimann.
In conjunction with the Textile Association of Los Angeles, the mart developed the semiannual Los Angeles International Textile Show, which usually attracts over 5,000 buyers and 350 exhibitors.
On the retail side, show attendance increased 20 percent this year compared with last year, Scheimann said, in large part due to the retail development program’s incentives.
One of her biggest accomplishments was the development of an international marketing program. Her team launched 12 contemporary California designers as exhibitors at the Pure show in London in August 1999. In addition, the mart collaborated with Parisian retailers in a teleconferencing event that exposed California designers to that market.