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 fastest growing economies in the world and the entire private sector has grown in recent years. Private companies help to increase the country’s GDP. As one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs, what does this Mexican private sector need to grow more and reach the levels everyone wants?
First, growth varies from sector to sector in Mexico. Our industry, for example, which is the entertainment industry, has grown 40% this year. We are therefore in the middle of an extremely dynamic market. Consumption is also on the rise in the country, probably around 6-7%, in retail, supermarkets and in general. So we’re pretty optimistic when we see how things are going right now. We are very encouraged by all of the reforms that have taken place in Mexico over the past few years, which are really going to help strengthen 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’ve been able to prove to the global arts community that the technical production capabilities and audiences they can find in Mexico are world-class.
CIE is one of Mexico’s leading entertainment companies. Please tell us more about your business and what inspired and gave you the passion to build and run one of the country’s most successful entertainment businesses.
CIE is a holding company that owns several companies specializing in the entertainment, conventions and special events sector. It has been 25 years since we created the company and today we are the third largest event promoter in the world. We’ve sold around 250 million tickets, so we’re very happy. I am also very happy with how we were able to ensure the return of Formula 1 to Mexico last weekend, which was a huge success, attracting around 335,000 people this weekend, with a very good echo of from international media, team owners, etc. Everyone was very happy and very happy with Mexico. At the end of the day, what really motivates us is being able to come up with 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 Coldplay concert, or it could be a motorsport event like Formula 1, or a show like Cirque du Soleil, or a Broadway play like the Lion King. There are therefore several initiatives. We are also able to produce special events. From the Mexican pavilion at the Milan exhibition to the bicentennial celebrations in Mexico. There is a collective of professionals, working and striving to create experiences, in order to provide a truly great experience for Mexican fans. By the way, the Mexican fan is the best fan in the world.
What are the most important projects you have in mind in the short to medium term, and what is your vision for your business in the next five years?
What I can tell you is that we continually attract the best talent in the world to the business. The good news is that over the past 25 years, we’ve been able to prove to the global arts community that the technical production capabilities and audiences they can find in Mexico are world-class. Regarding projects for the coming years, our goal is to continue to expand our offer each year. We anticipate double-digit growth for our companies over the next five years, with so many entertainment areas to explore in Mexico. We are very motivated to continue growing in Mexico and expanding into other countries in Central and South America.
And what about the United States, Europe and Asia?
We view the US market with great respect. We have a great relationship with Live Nation, which is the world leader. We follow what they do in the market and that’s pretty remarkable, so we’ve always been very careful. We try to participate in markets where we can add value and we believe that it is south of the border where we can really add more value.
Today, social responsibility and sustainability are key characteristics of a business. How important is it for your group to be sustainable and socially responsible, especially in the country?
Absoutely. You really have to be aware at all times. Our company has a foundation and it is a project that has been going on for ten years already, which makes us extremely happy. We mainly provide entertainment to low-income communities that cannot afford a ticket. In Mexico, as in any other country in Latin America, there are income differences between classes, making it difficult to provide all types of entertainment to all classes. So this is something that we have been working on and we think it is crucial for us to continue to do so.
Apart from all the main achievements, there are always challenges in life, especially for business. What are your main challenges as CEO of the company?
This year has been quite difficult in terms of exchange rates, for example. The exchange rate for new content is primarily based on the dollar. It varies constantly, but we have been able to deal with these issues. The real challenge is being able to deliver the quality you need in entertainment these days, in order to stay competitive in a global community. Everyone wants to have a Rolling Stones show, so where the Rolling Stones choose to go depends on your level of competitiveness and your ability to produce a good experience. We have to rise 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 to invest in your country, and of course in your industry?
First of all, I think Mexico is a great country to invest in. He is really well positioned. Our relationship with the United States has really helped stimulate our economy. It is now much more dependent and oriented towards the US economy. The transformation of the Mexican economy over the past two decades from a commodity and agricultural economy to a much more structured service economy has been tremendous. You just have to look at what is happening in many sectors: what is happening with energy, what is happening with the automotive sector, what is happening with the leisure industry and with tourism. There are so many industries and possibilities. Therefore, we believe that we have incredible potential and that we have the skills 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.