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Furlet Takes Over From Ulrich at MMPI

CHICAGO - Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI) has named Mark Furlet vp of its Chicago Gift & Home division, effective immediately. Furlet moves into the position held for the past 14 years by Joan Ulrich, who has resigned from the company.
     Furlet has served for the past five years as general manager of the LA Mart, and will remain its vice president and general manager, in addition to directing the Chicago division. In this new role, Furlet will direct all of MMPI's gift industry marketing, leasing and operations in Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as overseeing the gift teams responsible for selling and marketing permanent showrooms and temporary exhibition space.
     Chris Collins, who has been with MMPI for seven years, and involved with the gift industry for over two decades, will continue in his role as vp and general manager of the 7W New York showroom building, as well as leading the strategy for the MMPI businesses in New York.
     The move also comes shortly after MMPI cut back its staff, and a few months after parent company, Vornado, announced plans to take the business back to its roots. Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado, said in his annual letter to shareholders, "In 2011, we will withdraw capital from the unencumbered 350 West Mart building in Chicago (almost entirely an office building) by financing, sale or both. We will also focus on LA Mart. We will transition 7 West 34th back to New York Office [another division of Vornado] by 2015. Effectively this will scale the business back to its core, the Chicago Merchandise Mart plus the Washington and Boston Mart operations."
     While the letter didn't address the fate of New York's Show Piers, which MMPI took over in 2009, the recent repositioning of Chris Collins' role in New York could suggest his involvement in their management. A projected renovation, which had been held up by a legal challenge, was resolved in MMPI's favor this February.

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