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Meet the Fattedad family: father Benjamin (Benny), daughter Karin and son Kasim.
Benny Fattedad is a well-known and much-respected figure in Asian retail circles and he and his family are currently driving the remarkable resurgence of costume jewellery brand Grossé.
I had the pleasure of catching up with the family in Hong Kong last week at the Grossé store in the Peninsula Hotel. Later, over an enjoyable lunch, Benny told me the brand’s amazing story (you can read it in full in our May print edition).
The company and brand were founded in 1907 by Heinrich Henkel and Florentin Grosse in Pforzheim, Germany, specialising originally in jewellery and watch chains made of woven and plaited hair.
Over the ensuing decades Henkel & Grosse would grow to become a brand of international renown, surviving the Great Depression and two world wars, the second of which would see the company’s headquarters destroyed in a British air-raid on Pforzheim in 1945.
By 1955 business was thriving again, so much so that the company began a landmark licensing agreement with French luxury house Christian Dior, for which it produced fashion jewellery. It wasn’t an easy contract to land – post-war sensitivities were still running high and it took the intervention of a young ministerial director named Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (later to become French President from 1974 to 1981) to clinch the deal.
From that point the company’s production was split between Christian Dior fashion jewellery and Henkel & Grosse collections (the latter now branded Grossé). The former was set throughout with crystal stones, the latter focused on intricate metalwork. Both flourished.
Then, in 2005, just two years before the company’s 100th anniversary, Henkel & Grosse was taken over by Dior, which as part of a new strategy had decided to only sell Christian Dior in the company’s own boutiques.
While the French luxury house’s sole focus was Dior jewellery, it was not the end of Grossé. Far from it. For decades the Fattedad family had been partners with the Grosse family and when the Dior acquisition was announced, it was the Fattedads who, under the name of Grossé Hong Kong Limited (a subsidiary of the Fattedad-owned Devag Limited), took over the Grossé name worldwide, with Michael Grosse as consultant design director.
In recent years their focus has been on Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and other Asian markets. But now Benny Fattedad, delighted with the success of the brand (it outsells Dior), is looking further afield, seeking to appoint quality-driven distributors around the globe. “East and West, North and South, I want the world to know that Grossé is alive and kicking,” he says.
Let no-one doubt it.