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Swatch Group announced it will not attend Baselworld 2019 or any of its future fairs going forth
Swatch Group announced it will not attend Baselworld 2019 or any of its future fairs going forth

Swatch Group withdraws from Baselworld

Swatch Group has announced it will not attend future Baselworld events in what has been another big blow for the watch fair.

The Swiss watchmaker’s chief executive Nick Hayek made the announcement in an interview with NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, citing the hefty cost of the fair’s exhibition building as its reason.

“The MCH Group, which organises Baselworld, is clearly more concerned with optimising and amortising 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,” Hayek said.

“For all these reasons, Swatch Group has decided that from 2019 onwards, it will no longer be present at Baselworld.”

The newspaper calculated that major exhibitors like Swatch budget around 50 million francs (AU$68 m) to attend Baselworld, covering the cost of travel and hotel expenses for its staff and guests.

In his interview, Hayek also questioned the necessity of trade fairs like Baselworld, in light of recent industry changes.

“Today, everything has become more transparent, fast-moving, and instantaneous. In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense,” he said.

“This does not mean that they should disappear. But it is necessary that they reinvent themselves, responding appropriately to the current situation and demonstrating more dynamism and creativity.”

Baselworld’s new managing director Michel Loris-Melikoff also spoke with the publication.

“It would be a great disappointment if the Swatch Group were to leave Baselworld,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to keep them in Basel.”

Loris-Melikoff took on the managerial role earlier this month after Sylvie Ritter stepped down after 15 years at the helm.

2017 was also a difficult year for the event, which saw the withdrawal of more than 600 exhibitors.

More reading
Baselworld managing director resigns
Baselworld: Restructuring in a recovering market
Geneva Watch Fair reassures the industry
Baselworld to reduce exhibitor numbers

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