Marcopolis presents the Mexico Report focused on the investments, doing business, economy and other topics featuring interviews with Mexican leaders. The sectors under review in this issue are industry, oil and gas sector, investments, banking sector, telecom sector and many more.
Luis Alejandro Soberón Kuri is the CEO of Grupo CIE (Corporación Interamericana de Entretenimiento), the leading company in the out-of-home entertainment market in Mexico, Colombia and Central America, and one of the best-known companies in Latin America in the entertainment industry.
Interview with Luis Alejandro Soberón Kuri
Mexico is one of the world’s most dynamic economies, and the entire private sector has been growing over the past years. Private companies are helping to increase the country’s GDP. As one of the most highly regarded entrepreneurs in the country, what does this private sector in Mexico need, in order to grow more and to reach the levels that everyone wants?
First of all, growth varies from sector to sector in Mexico. Our sector, for instance, which is the entertainment sector, has grown 40% this year. So we are in the midst of a tremendously dynamic market. Consumption is up in the country too, probably by around 6-7%, in retail, in supermarkets and in general. So, we are pretty optimistic when we see the way things are currently going. We feel very encouraged by all the reforms that have taken place in Mexico over the past years, which are really going to help empower the economy in a much stronger way. It’s great to see so much dynamism in the country today.
Over the past 25 years, we have been able to prove to the world’s artist community that the technical production capabilities and the audience that they can find in Mexico is world-class.
CIE is one of Mexico’s leading entertainment companies. Please tell us more about your company and what inspired you and gave you the passion to create and manage one of the most successful entertainment companies in the country.
CIE is a holding that owns several companies focusing on the entertainment, convention and special events sector. It has been 25 years since we started the company and we are now the third largest events promoter in the world. We have sold about 250 million tickets, so we are very happy. I’m also very pleased by the way we were able to secure the return of Formula 1 to Mexico last weekend, which was a tremendous success, attracting around 335,000 people over the weekend, with a great response from the international media, team owners, etc. Everyone was very pleased and very happy with Mexico. Ultimately, what really drives us is being able to propose and combine experiences, and increase the level of experience that a Mexican fan can have. It could be a Rolling Stones concert, it could be a Madonna or a Coldplay concert, or it could be a motor sport event like Formula 1, or a show like Cirque du Soleil, or a Broadway play like the Lion King. So there are several initiatives. We are also able to produce special events. From the Mexican pavilion at the Milan expo to the Bicentenary Celebrations in Mexico. There is a collective of professionals, working and striving to create experiences, in order to provide a really great experience to Mexican fans. By the way, the Mexican fan is the best fan in the world.
What are the most important projects that you have in mind in the short and medium term, and what is your vision for your company in the next five years?
What I can tell you is that we are continuously attracting the world’s best talent to the company. The good news is that over the past 25 years, we have been able to prove to the world’s artist community that the technical production capabilities and the audience that they can find in Mexico is world-class. Regarding projects in future years, our aim is to continue expanding what we offer every year. We expect double-digit growth from our companies over the next five years, with so many areas for entertainment yet to be explored in Mexico. We are very motivated to keep growing in Mexico and to expand to other countries in Central and South America.
And what about the US, Europe and Asia?
We regard the US market with a lot of respect. We have a great relationship with Live Nation, which is the world leader. We follow what they have been doing in the market and it’s pretty remarkable, so we have always been very cautious. We try to participate in markets where we can bring added value and we think that south of the border is where we can really bring more value.
Today, social responsibility and sustainability are key features of a company. How important is it for your group to be sustainable and socially responsible, in the country especially?
Absolutely. You really need to be conscious, at all times. Our company has a foundation and it’s a project that has already been ten years in the making, which makes us extremely happy. We basically bring entertainment to low income communities who don’t have the opportunity to pay for a ticket. In Mexico, as in any other Latin American country, there are income differentials between classes, which makes it difficult to deliver all types of entertainment to all classes. So that’s something we have been working on and we feel it’s crucial for us to continue to do.
Apart from all the main achievements, there are always challenges in life, especially for companies. What are your main challenges as the CEO of the company?
This year has been pretty challenging in terms of the exchange rate, for instance. The exchange rate for new content is basically dollar-based. It varies constantly, but we were able to manage those problems. The real challenge lies in being able to deliver the quality that you need in entertainment these days, in order to remain competitive within a world community. Everyone wants to have a Rolling Stones show, so where the Rolling Stones actually choose to go depends on how competitive you are, and how capable you are of producing a good experience. We need to live up to the challenge, and the challenge is permanent.
What is your message to all potential investors who want to come and invest in Mexico? Why should people come and invest in your country, and of course in your sector?
First of all, I think that Mexico is a wonderful country to invest in. It’s really well positioned. Our relationship with the United States has truly helped to boost our economy. It is now much more dependent upon and oriented towards the American economy. The transformation of the Mexican economy over the past twenty years, from a commodity and agricultural economy to a much larger service-structured economy, has been tremendous. You just need to look at what’s happening across many sectors: what’s happening with energy, what’s happening with the automotive sector, what’s happening with the leisure industry and with tourism. There are so many industries and possibilities. Therefore, we believe we have an amazing potential and there is the necessary skill and capacity to create world-class products in Mexico. We are competitive on wages and we are competitive in terms of productivity, which is pretty good. Come to Mexico and invest in Mexico.