The Middle East’s leading jewelry house has partnered with investment platform Bidayat, which will see Alsara Investment Group’s mutual fund take a minority stake in the family business AzzaFahmy. The capital injection is already earmarked for retail business development and particularly for international expansion outside the Middle East where it is well established in Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates; and the UK, where the brand has a store in London.
Known for its distinctive use of mixed metals, common in the Middle East jewelry, and combines traditional motifs and calligraphy with more modern settings and prides itself on using jewelry as a medium for cultural storytelling. Creative direction still rests with Azza Fahmy herself, who first entered the male-dominated Egyptian jewelery industry in 1969 when she was training with master jewelers in Cairo. She then set up her own business and over the past few decades has carved a niche for her contemporary jewelry that showcases Egyptian culture and is made using traditional techniques.
Azza Fahmy’s CEO, Fatma Ghaly, explained why the North American market is a priority for international expansion: “In terms of customer base, US customers make up the largest portion of our business London boutique and in our online shop. We have also run several extremely successful activations in recent years [in the US market]… a testament to the demand for our designs in North America,” says Ghaly, daughter of Fahmy. The team is planning stand-alone stores and concessions in well-known luxury department stores and increasing e-commerce activities.
Because ancient Egypt has a cultural moment, inspired by Tutankhamun and the Rosetta Stone, the team is “very proud to put Egypt on the international map as a center for jewelry design. Every piece of jewelry we create has a deep meaning for its wearer and owner. We firmly believe that customers today are looking for truly unique pieces. There’s a very rich culture and history that we present through jewelry and it’s time for us to share that with the world,” she says.
An investment fund targeting high-potential creative entrepreneurs in Europe and MENA (Middle East and North Africa), Bidayat – meaning “beginnings” in Arabic – has a previous form of creating international success stories from local brands, including the Egyptian Luxury accessories label Okhtein, through investment, mentoring and incubation. “Azza Fahmy’s approach … is a remarkable way of celebrating the rich heritage of Egyptian art. It fits perfectly with Bidayat’s mission to nurture, develop and unite creative talent. We are excited and proud to be working with Azza, her daughters Amina and Fatma and the entire team to support one of the most respected jewelery houses in the world,” adds Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Founder and Chairman of Bidayat.
With 24 points of sale already – including boutiques and concessions – Azza Fahmy plans to open two more flagship stores in the first half of 2023. A 300-strong team is driving the store around a range of offers ranging from $218 for a pair of sterling silver hoop earrings up to $23,000 for more elaborate jewelry, including larger gemstones. As part of its dual focus on Egyptian craftsmanship and culture as well as design education, the Azza Fahmy Foundation was set up to provide disadvantaged Egyptian youth with vocational training, employment opportunities and start-up support in handicraft industries, thus ensuring the preservation of traditional craftsmanship.
This was followed in 2013 by The Design Studio by Azza Fahmy, a design school with an internationally recognized training program based on traditional skills and aimed at young people across the region, another example of the company’s efforts to protect and showcase its heritage Founder is so proud. With the additional investment from Bidayat, Azza Fahmy wants to carry this passion far beyond her company’s Egyptian roots.