Mexico's Carlos Slim eyes New York for retail expansion
MEXICO CITY |
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Tycoon Carlos Slim is evaluating taking the iconic Mexican restaurant and retail store Sanborns to Manhattan, in what would be his latest foray into the United States.
Sanborns, a unit of Slim's holding company Grupo Carso (GCARSOA1.MX), is a staple of Mexican life, with stores across the country where shoppers can buy anything from underwear to a plate of spicy chilaquiles, a traditional dish, or even pay their phone bills.
"What we are looking at is the possibility of opening a first Sanborns in Manhattan," Arturo Elias Ayub, a spokesman and close aide of Slim, told Reuters on Wednesday. "There is nothing defined yet."
Shares in parent Grupo Carso rose 1.17 percent to 72.88 pesos, in part boosted by the news on Wednesday, traders said.
Slim, a huge baseball fan who travels every now and then to New York to watch the Yankees play, is no stranger to doing business in one of the world's top financial capitals.
He holds about 6.9 percent of the New York Times (NYT.N) Class A shares and earlier this year he bought, along with other investors, a landmark building near Central Park.
Slim also is the second largest share holder in department store operator Saks Inc (SKS.N). He operates the brand in Mexico. He recently opened the second store at his new business and entertainment complex in a posh area in Mexico City.
Elias Ayub said a Sanborns in Manhattan, home to some of the world's most luxurious retail stores and hundreds of restaurants offering anything from Ethiopian to Thai food, would not only appeal to Mexicans living on the island but also to a wider cultural base.
Last year, nearly 24 percent of Manhattan's population identified itself as Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
If he goes ahead, Slim will be hoping for more success than with his failed investment in computer and gadget retailer CompUSA, a rare misstep for the billionaire. Slim sold the business in 2007 after struggling to compete with Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N).
Sanborns tracks its origin to a small drug store founded in downtown Mexico City in 1903 by young American brothers Walter and Frank Sanborn.
The small business added a soda fountain that quickly drew an eclectic crowd, from Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, who was fond of sundaes and banana splits, to Revolutionary leaders Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, who went by for hot cocoa.
The business, which keeps its logo of three owls atop a tree branch representing Frank Sanborn and his two children, was sold to Slim's Grupo Carso in 1985.
The chain has over 100 stores in Mexico and is a sure stop for students on a budget who can easily hook up to its wi-fi network while drinking inexpensive coffee, consumers craving a milkshake and office workers seeking an after-hours drink.
The restaurant waiters are dressed in folkloric gear and Sanborns is one of the few places in Mexico where U.S. expats can get a Thanksgiving menu every November.
Elias Ayub said the plan to bring Sanborns to the United States, which has been under review for about a month, will largely depend on finding local suppliers who can guarantee the same offering as in Mexico.
(Additional reporting by Guido Nejamkis in Argentina, Dan Trotta in New York editing by Phil Berlowitz, Dave Zimmerman and Carol Bishopric)
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