High street stores do not come much more Mexican than Sanborns. With its rather disjointed collection of chocolates, jewelry and magazines and its cafeterias staffed by waitresses in folkloric skirts, the retail chain has long been a symbol of homespun tradition. But even with its chaotic charm and staid looks, Sanborns, owned by Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, is now also becoming a symbol of Mexico’s new-found economic dynamism.
This month, Mr Slim confirmed that he would list Sanborns on the stock market to raise about $800m. The idea, he said, was to take advantage of high stock valuations and use the money to cater to the increasing prosperity of the country’s middle classes. Sanborns’ plans to list come as the country is becoming the latest darling of international investors, emerging from the shadow of Brazil, whose economy has lost its lustre. Mexico’s economy expanded almost 4 per cent last year, about double the average annual growth rate this century.