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Swatch Group Calls Time on Baselworld

Annual watch fairs no longer make sense, says Omega owner.
Jul 30, 2018 4:46 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Swatch Group has quit Baselworld, arguing the watch and jewelry show is no longer relevant and its organizers are not interested in changing it for the better.

The Swiss group, whose 18 brands include Omega, Tissot and Harry Winston, is a mainstay of the annual fair. However, it will not attend from next year as the event has failed to keep up with the changing industry, it said in a statement to Rapaport News Monday.

“Today everything has become more transparent, fast-moving, and instantaneous,” Swatch said. “Accordingly, a different rhythm and a different approach [are] needed. In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense.”

Trade shows should not disappear, but must “reinvent themselves” by adapting to the new environment and being more dynamic and creative, the company added.

“At the moment, the trade fairs are failing to do so. The MCH Group, which organizes Baselworld, is clearly more concerned with optimizing and amortizing its new building — which, incidentally, is largely financed by the watch industry during the fairs — than it is in having the courage to make real progress and to bring about true and profound changes.”

The Swiss show has already undergone certain modifications in the past year. The March 2018 edition was much smaller than previous ones, with about 650 exhibitors attending compared to 1,300 a year earlier. MCH also shortened the event from eight days to six. In May, Sylvie Ritter resigned as the show’s managing director after 15 years in charge, with Michel Loris-Melikoff taking over.

Baselworld has also seen competition from new shows, including the GemGenève fair in May, which drew 147 exhibitors. The Geneva event largely attracted gem and jewelry companies that felt sidelined by the more expensive Baselworld.

“We want to conduct the fair in 2019 as attractively as possible, in a new style and with a new way of thinking,” Loris-Melikoff said in a statement Monday. “With this in mind, I hope that a successful edition of Baselworld in 2019 will motivate Swatch Group to again participate in the show in the future. I personally would be very pleased to hold constructive talks with Swatch Group.”

Image: Baselworld
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Tags: basel, Baselworld, events, GemGenève, Harry Winston, Jewelry, MCH, MCH Group, Michel Loris-Melikoff, Omega, Rapaport News, Swatch, swatch group, Sylvie Ritter, tissot, trade fairs, Trade Shows, watches
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