Could you tell us about the history of Bayad Group?
Bayad was started in Baghdad in 1991 as a small textile importer. We had a sister company, Miran Group, that was active in transport between Iraq and Turkey. We were active in the textile business until the late 1990s. However, with the development of the business climate and the country’s overall economy, the company gradually expanded into new areas of business, particularly consumer electronics. Our business relations with Samsung Electronics began in 1998. We started importing Samsung products into the Kurdistan Region in 1998. By 2003, we were able to begin distributing Samsung products throughout Iraq. We have now established an enormous network, and Bayad currently has the largest market share in consumer electronics throughout all of Iraq. Furthermore, while electronics are still the core business of the group, we are now a holding company with investments in several industries, including construction, aviation, finance, and education.
Can you tell us about the original BAYAD line of consumer electronics that Bayad Group released? How has the line been received?
We have worked with Samsung for a long time, and eventually we decided to establish our own brand. We hope to shape BAYAD into an international brand originating in Iraq. In fact, we have already begun exporting BAYAD products to Iran, and we are in negotiations to begin exporting to Egypt and Libya.
When we started this idea, we began developing air conditioning units, televisions, refrigerators, and washing machines. This is the brand’s second year in existence. In the first year alone, BAYAD managed to capture 5% of Iraq’s air conditioning market. We did not expect such early success. We are now working on expanding our lines to offer products from entry-level to premium designs.
Bayad Group has invested in a diverse range of industries. Can you discuss Bayad’s role in these sectors?
Our two most significant ventures are Azmar Airlines and North Bank. Azmar Airlines was established in 2005. At that time, very few airlines were willing to fly into Iraq, which appeared to us as a major opportunity. In partnership with two other companies, we established Azmar.
Regarding North Bank, the bank was established in 1999-2000 in Baghdad, and we were early funders of the bank. At that time, the bank was quite small, but now it is one of the largest and most traded in Iraq.
What other steps is Bayad Group taking in the direction of becoming a larger holding company?
Diversifying our operations across industries provides our company with stability. Each industry follows maturing and declining stages, so diversification allows the company as a whole to continue growing through these cycles. Therefore, we have tried to diversify in this manner over the past several years. Our strategy is not to manage everything we invest in. Rather, we want to invest in opportunities through partnerships with other companies, and allow management to operate separately from the Bayad Group. This is largely because we do not want to lose focus on our central business of consumer electronics.