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Local suppliers reported that the event was about quality as opposed to quantity
Local suppliers reported that the event was about quality as opposed to quantity

Buyers down, quality up at BaselWorld

Although BaselWorld 2014 buyer numbers were down, it didn’t seem to phase Australian suppliers, with many reporting that the quality of the event was not compromised.

BaselWorld organiser, MCH Swiss Exhibition, released post fair statistics showing that 150,000 people attended, however, that figure did include staff from around 1,500 exhibitors from 40 countries, along with 4,000 media.

While the 2013 event recorded 122,000 buyers, this year many exhibitors felt that there was a drop in buyers visiting their stands, when compared with the record attendance last year. The show’s organiser later confirmed that the number of buyers in attendance in 2014 was 117,000 – a 4 per cent decrease.

As previously reported by Jeweller, last year’s numbers could be attributed to the show’s CHF430 million (AU$522.4 m) hall redevelopment. 

The Swiss Exhibitors Committee noted in an official statement that the decline in quantity was “no great cause for concern as it was compensated by a rise in quality, with a public composed for the most part of trade visitors”. 

John Papaioannou, managing director of Time Essentials
John Papaioannou, managing director of Time Essentials
John Papaioannou, managing director of Time Essentials – the local distributor for Jag, Fiorelli, Bulova and Champion – agreed. Papaioannou said that although there were fewer people and the “overall mood was quiet due to the ongoing challenges in the European and United States markets”, he found this year’s fair to be better than last year’s as he was able to secure more business. 

“Whilst it was definitely quieter than previous years, the business we conducted was excellent, and the response to the new Bulova and Harley Davidson ranges exceeded our expectations,” he added.

Ken Abbott, managing director of Timesupply, said, “From the outside, this year’s fair looked very much the same as last year’s. However, from the inside, other distributors were telling me that they were being asked to order more product than they could reasonably handle compared to the previous year.”

Timesupply distributes brands including Danish Design, Vostok-Europe and Jacob Jensen. Abbot explained that he thought this year’s show was “thought-provoking and curious”, listing his favourite aspect as the brands in Hall Two, which he found “exciting, cool and more relevant to our market”.

Seiko Australia group sales manager for the Oceania region, Brett Neill, described the atmosphere as “upbeat”, and added that “confidence was high” for the watch category.

“BaselWorld was a huge success for Seiko with the launch of the new Astron Chronograph,” he said, adding that the watch features a case that is 30 per cent smaller than the previous model. 

Martin Johnson of GDL Accessories, whose overall opinion of this year’s fair was “of optimism and growth”, reported that new products from The Movado Group, which include Hugo Boss, Scuderia Ferrari and Tommy Hilfiger, would ensure increased expansion for the brands.

Nils Rasmussen, managing director of BYMR
Nils Rasmussen, managing director of BYMR
Johnson said that The Movado Group greatly improved its overall positioning at the trade show from the previous year. “We have now gathered all our stable of brands – both Swiss and fashion – together to occupy the main entrance to the hall, hence showing great strength and leverage in what is an extremely competitive marketplace,” he explained.

For BYMR managing director Nils Rasmussen, local distributor for Bering, Braun, Gant and Rosendahl, this year was the first time he had experienced BaselWorld’s redeveloped exhibition halls, which received wide acclaim when first revealed last year. 

“It was inspiring to see the new layout and the amazing booths in Hall One,” Rasmussen commented. “The sheer number of watch exhibitors points to just how competitive this category is, and underlines the importance of brands having a genuine point of difference to cut through the competition.”

The next BaselWorld show will be held from 19–26 March 2015. 

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