The Middle East’s leading jewelry house has entered into a partnership with the investment platform Bidayat, which will see the Alsara Investment Group-owned investment fund take a minority stake in family-owned Azza Fahmy. The injection of capital has already been earmarked for development of the retail business, and in particular, international expansion outside of the Middle East, where it is well-established across Egypt, Jordan and UAE; and the UK, where the brand has a store in London.
Known for its distinctive use of mixed metals common in Middle Eastern jewelry, and pairing traditional motifs and calligraphy with more modern settings, the house prides itself on using jewelry as a medium for cultural storytelling. Creative direction is still helmed by Azza Fahmy herself, who first broke into the male-dominated Egyptian jewelry industry in 1969 when she completed an apprenticeship with master jewelers in Cairo. She went on to set up her own business and over the intervening decades, has carved a niche for her contemporary jewelry showcasing Egyptian culture, made using heritage techniques.
The CEO of Azza Fahmy, Fatma Ghaly, outlined why the North American market is a priority for international expansion: “In terms of clientele, US customers make up the highest share at our London boutique as well as on our online store. In the past few years, we have also hosted several extremely successful activations [in the US market]… testament to the demand in North America for our designs,” says Ghaly, who is Fahmy’s daughter. The team is planning stand-alone stores as well as concessions inside well-known luxury department stores, and ramping up e-commerce activity.
With Ancient Egypt having a cultural moment, inspired by Tutankhamen and the Rosetta Stone, the team is “extremely proud to put Egypt on the international map as a jewelry design hub. Each piece of jewelry we create holds a deep meaning to its wearer and owner. We strongly believe that customers today are looking for pieces that are truly unique. There is a very rich culture and history that we showcase through jewelry, and it is time for us to share this with the world,” she says.
As an investment fund targeting high-potential creative entrepreneurs in Europe and MENA (Middle East and North Africa), Bidayat – which means ‘beginnings’ in Arabic – has previous form in creating international success stories out of local brands including Egyptian luxury accessories label Okhtein, through investment, mentorship and incubation. “Azza Fahmy’s approach … is a most remarkable way of celebrating the rich heritage of Egyptian artistry. It is perfectly in line with Bidayat’s mission to nurture, develop and unite creative talents. We are excited and proud to join forces with Azza, her daughters Amina and Fatma, as well as the entire team to support one of the most esteemed jewellery houses worldwide,” adds Bidayat founder and chairman Rachid Mohamed Rachid.
With 24 points of sale – including boutiques and concessions – already, Azza Fahmy is planning on opening two further flagships in the first half of 2023. A 300-strong team drives the business around an offering that ranges from $218 for a pair of sterling silver hoop earrings, to $23,000 for more elaborate fine jewelry, including larger precious gems. As part of its dual focus on Egyptian craftsmanship and culture, and design education, the Azza Fahmy Foundation was created to provide vocational training, job opportunities and start-up support in craft-based industries to marginalized Egyptian youth, ensuring the preservation of traditional handicrafts.
In 2013, it was followed by The Design Studio by Azza Fahmy, a design school with an internationally recognized education program rooted in traditional skills, aimed at young people across the region, another example of the company’s efforts to protect and showcase the heritage of which its founder is so proud. With the extra investment from Bidayat, Azza Fahmy aims to take that passion beyond far beyond her business’s Egyptian roots.
Read More: Egyptian Jewelry House Azza Fahmy Eyes International Market With Bidayat Partnership