The Business Year

Estiben Handal

MEXICO - Real Estate & Construction

Raise the Roof

General Director, Cien Grupo Inmobiliario


Estiben Handal has more than 30 years of experience in real estate. He brings an innovative approach to new developments as well as transforming underperforming projects into a success. A pioneer in rural developments, he is the largest developer in this segment in Latin America, with more than 11,000 lots developed.

Cien Grupo Inmobiliaro has 35 years of experience in the Mexican real estate sector, with a specific focus on commercial real estate.

What has been the role of Cien Grupo Inmobiliario in the Mexican real estate sector?

During our 35 years, we have made all kinds of developments. We started by building small open commercial plazas, industrial warehouses, and offices, as well as residential developments in the countryside. We decided to do residential developments with small lots, swimming pools, sports spaces, and clubs. The success was impressive, and we became the largest rural residential development in Latin America, with more than 11,000 lots. Now we are entirely dedicated to commercial developments.

What makes your current commercial developments different from existing offerings?

Usually, shopping centers use departmental stores or supermarkets as an anchor. We offer a modern macro market where people have all the comforts of a mall but also have items from the basic food basket. These spaces not only have a section with the classic offerings of a shopping center, but there is also a section with butchers, groceries, and retail fruit shops, with prices of a food market. People can buy the basic food basket up to 40% cheaper than in a supermarket. This model seeks direct trade without intermediaries. Our target market is the middle- and lower-middle class. Our shopping centers are not luxury, and are located in municipalities of medium and low-level income, where there is high a level of population concentrated. Additionally, our commercial developments contribute to employment generation and can be considered “commercial ecosystems.” Our development Multicomercial Guadalupe generates 2,000 jobs, for example. These people belong to the socioeconomic target level of the commercial center, so they work in the shopping center, and they also consume what the shopping center offers. It covers all the needs of people and their families. Besides, many businesses within the shopping center buy their inputs in the market of the shopping center. There is a reciprocal chain of consumption, due to this commercial ecosystem. In addition, tertiary employees such as taxi drivers or anyone who works around the mall can be consumers in these shopping centers. At the end, our developments are born with a sound consumer base from within.

What is the social impact of Cien Grupo Inmobiliario’s commercial developments?

We are based in Monterrey, where most of the developments are targeting rich people, which is becoming an oversupplied segment. We are looking at other municipalities that are growing and that have unattended, yet considerable, middle-class sectors. It is more convenient for developers to make a commercial center for wealthier segments, but we have made these kinds of developments to benefit families in under-served markets. In our developments, we make sports courts, outdoor theaters, we offer shows, we put municipal offices, and children’s rooms. All these services are free with the presentation of a purchase ticket. The target of our developments are people who cannot pay for those kind of services, so we supply those services. On top of that, we bring municipal services to our developments so that people can do their paperwork with ease. Free schools of arts and crafts, like confectionery and cooking classes, are also available. Our developments include social services that eventually improve the living conditions of large populations.

What are the plans to expand other cities in the country?

Our concept is different, and we can replicate it in the whole country. First, we want to finish developing in Nuevo León where there is a large market to serve. Simultaneously, we want to explore the country in 2020. We are studying Puebla and Guadalajara. In our investment system, we do not invite investors but the owners of the land. They contribute the land in exchange for commercial premises. Our real estate developments are socially minded. They help people; they leave a mark in the cities and the country. They stay and make history. It brings us great satisfaction as a real estate developer. Beyond profit, there is support and benefit for people.



You may also be interested in...

Alfredo Gutierrez

MEXICO - Telecoms & IT

Alfredo Gutierrez


Country Manager, Workday

Harry Sacal, CEO of Pluscorp

MEXICO - Finance

Harry Sacal


CEO, Pluscorp


MEXICO - Economy

Mónica Vera


Managing Director, TMF Group

View All interviews