The Poma family, other Salvadoran millionaires who are making a name for themselves in Colombia

In the attractive business of shopping centers, there is another major foreign player in Colombia along with the Chileans from Parque Arauco. This is the Roble Group, owner of the Multiplaza La Felicidad Shopping Center in the west of Bogotá.

Roble is a division of the Grupo Poma business conglomerate of El Salvador, founded in the first decade of the 20th century by the Spanish immigrant Bartolomé Poma. A story similar to the Callejas, the Salvadoran family that stayed with Grupo Éxito.

The Roble Group began in the real estate business in 1963. Pioneer in serial housing solutions, shopping centers, corporate centers and hotels, five years later supported by the Metrocentro brand, it began a successful internationalization process that has led it to build three other Multiplaza brands. , Unicentro and El Paseo.

The first Multiplaza was inaugurated in Escazú, Costa Rica in 1993, followed by Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, and the most ambitious inaugurated in 2004, a city within the city: the Multiplaza Panamericana in San Salvador, El Salvador.

The Multiplaza La Felicidad opened in June 2017 on Avenida Boyacá in Fontibón in Bogotá. The 177 stores attracted well-known brands such as H&M, Zara, Stradivarius, Falabella, Bershka and Decathlon. A year later, he bought the second stage of the Alamedas Shopping Center in Montería, the largest in the city.

The Pomas started with hotels in Colombia

We learned about the Pomas with the inauguration of the Bogotá Marriott Hotel on Av. El Dorado, whose inauguration was attended in 2009 by then-president Álvaro Uribe. A year later, in August 2010, the second JW Marriott, its luxury line assisted by Ricardo Poma, would be inaugurated.

Ricardo Poma, JW “Bill” Marriott Jr., President Alvaro Uribe and Fernando Poma at the inauguration of the Marriott Hotel in Bogotá in October 2009

In February 2014, Grupo Poma opened its third Marriott hotel in Cali and in December 2017 another hotel in El Poblado in Medellín. In addition to the hotels, Grupo Roble also has the Bogotá Corporate Center, located in the Business Center on Avenida El Dorado, and Autofacil, which offers financing solutions for vehicles.

The origin: a Catalan who travels to America

Bartolomé Poma, the founder, a Catalan mechanic, migrated to America along with his Italian wife Magdalena Botero and daughter Filomena. They started in Mexico City but the Mexican Revolution forced them to settle in El Paso, Texas, United States, where their second son Luis was born. A compatriot invited him to work as a mechanic in San Salvador where they arrived in 1919. He then founded the Garage Casa Poma specialized in automobile repair and sales.

Bartolome PomaBartolome Poma
Bartolomé Poma started his car repair shop in San Salvador

After completing his studies in Spain, Luis, the eldest of the Pomas, took the reins of the business and expanded it in the 1930s. He obtained the distribution of General Motors and Ford and then in 1953 he introduced the Japanese Toyota in El Salvador, the first distributor of the continent. It was also he who set up the Salvadoran Foundation for Health and Human Development – ​​Fusal, to overcome poverty, which is directed by his son Ricardo Poma who, given his training in industrial engineering at Princeton and Harvard, assumed the general direction of the Poma Group. .

Luis PomaLuis Poma
Luis Poma, the oldest of the brothers, was the great promoter of the Group

For forty years, as president of Grupo Poma, Ricardo Poma Delgado, has expanded its business lines and is one of the largest employers in the region with its five divisions: automotive, development in the real estate sector, hospitality, its industrial division and automotive financing. He also founded the Higher School of Economics and Business – ESEN of which he is rector.

Ricardo Poma, the head of the family clan, married Florence Ann Kriete, sister of Roberto José Kriete Ávila, the largest minority shareholder of Avianca Holdings, with whom he had three children, Alberto, Andrés and Fernando Poma Kriete. Alberto, a graduate of the Incae international business school in Costa Rica, has been in charge of the Roble Group since 2004, specialized in real estate; Fernando is the executive director of Real Hotels & Resorts, which builds JW Marriott, Marriott, Intercontinental and Quality brand hotels for Grupo Roble, and is a member of the boards of directors of Grupo Poma, Grupo Roble and Grupo Kriete. And Andrés is the general manager of Excel Automotive in El Salvador, a leading company in Central America with 26% market share.

Juan Manuel SantosJuan Manuel Santos
Chancellor María Angela Holguin, President Juan Manuel Santos and Ricardo Poma at the ceremony for granting Colombian nationality in 2016

In April 2016, then-president Juan Manuel Santos took advantage of a visit he made to El Salvador and presented Colombian nationality to businessman Ricardo Poma at the Colombian Embassy, ​​in the company of Foreign Minister María Angela Holguín. He also did it with Cecilia Sol de Kriete, executive director of the Kriete Foundation, wife of Roberto Kriete, president of the board of directors of Avianca.

With a very good professional training, the three Poma Kriete brothers continue to push their group just like the other three Salvadoran conglomerates that have become big players in the Colombian economy.

Fernando Poma Kriete, 51, known as the hotel czar of Central America, was born in El Salvador, but left the country at the age of 7 due to the internal armed conflict and the kidnapping and murder of an uncle; He lived for a few years in Miami, from there he moved to Guatemala where he lived for a decade before ending up in Washington.

Poma Kriete BrothersPoma Kriete Brothers
Fernando, Andrés and Alberto Poma Kriete, the fourth generation linked to the business group

Since 2000, Fernando has lived in El Salvador in charge of the 21 hotels of the Inter-Continental Hotels Group, Marriott International and Choice Hotels International brands in nine countries, the six Central American ones, plus Colombia, the United States and the Dominican Republic. He is a member of the rock band, Steady Rollin, founded in El Salvador in 2015, where he participates with voice and guitar, a group that has published two albums and toured in Central America and in Bogotá, where he performed at Circo Terraza of the JW Marriott hotel. in February 2018.

With its investment in Colombia in the Multiplaza La Felicidad Shopping Center, it aspires to become one of the main shopping centers in the capital once the urban development of the Ciudadela La Felicidad is completed, with more than 15,000 homes, the expansion of 13th Street and incorporation of Transmilenio and the development of the Regiotram project. Its valuation will, moreover, be enormous.

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