Roberto Santiago: A Permanent Feature in Brazil’s Retail Industry

The state of Paraiba has produced some of the most successful entrepreneurs in Brazil. Arguably its greatest entrepreneurial product, however, is Roberto Santiago. The businessman has heavily invested in the city if Joao Pessoa, with the biggest of his businesses being the Manaira shopping mall.


Roberto Santiago was born and raised in Joao Pessoa. Owing to his love of the city, he decided to complete his academic studies there. For his undergraduate studies, he attended the prestigious University Center of Joao Pessoa, going on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. After leaving school, he briefly worked at the décor manufacturing company, Café Santa Rosa before deciding to try his hand at entrepreneurship. His first business, known as Cartonnage was a carton producing company that also sold decorative products. With business booming, he decided to diversify into the real estate sector. This move would usher him into the retail and industry and set him on his way to developing the Manaira shopping mall

The Manaira Shopping Mall

As part of his growing real estate business, Roberto Santiago bought a prime piece of land in Joao Pessoa in 1987. He specifically earmarked the land for the development of a shopping mall, and after two years of construction, the Manaira shopping mall was opened to the public. In mall boards of a total area of slightly over 100,000 square meters, which translates to about 280 shopping stores.

Given its versatility, shoppers are always spoilt for choice while in the Manaira shopping mall. In addition to the numerous shopping stores, the mall also features a food court, a gaming area, a number of movie theaters, a college, a gym and a few bank branches. The key attraction at the mall, however, is its Domus Hall – a large concert hall located on its rooftop. The hall occupies two stories that can hold thousands of people at a time, either seated or standing. Consequently, over the years the Manaira shopping mall has played host to a number of performances from huge local and international acts.

Remaining Consistent

Brazil has been hit a few economic problems in the last few years, but Rodrigo Santiago has still managed to stabilize and grow his business. The global financial crisis of 2008/2009 and the Brazilian economic crisis of 2015 greatly tested the Brazilian retail industry, with some shopping malls and complexes even having to close shop. In that time, however, the Manaira shopping mall, and other businesses owned by Santiago remained strong and even managed to attract new international brand tenants. Given his resilience, it is not farfetched to assume that Roberto Santiago will continue being one of the most influential businessmen in Joao Pessoa and the Brazilian retail sector.


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