Baselworld responds to Swatch Group exit

Baselworld has openly responded to Swatch Group’s exit from the annual fair, and attempted to show its continued relevance by announcing new details about the format and layout for next year’s edition.

In a statement to the press, Baselworld expresses its disappointment but denies that Swatch Group was not kept informed about its plans to improve the show in 2019.

René Kamm, chief executive officer of the MCH Group, which runs Baselworld, shares: “We extraordinarily regret Swatch Group’s decision. The cancellation is all the more surprising for us because this news reaches us at a point in time when new management has arrived with a new team, new esprit and many new ideas.”

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Michel Loris-Melikoff, who took over from long standing managing director Sylvie Ritter on July 1, also says he is extending an invitation to Swatch Group to discuss a way forward.

He shares: “We want to conduct the fair in 2019 as attractively as possible, in a new style and with a new way of thinking. 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.”

Looking ahead, Baselworld has revealed a revised focus on communication and hospitality, alongside new plans to keep the exhibition fresh and relevant.

Michel Loris-Melikoff says the transformation of Baselworld from an order platform to an attractive marketing, communications and events platform will be prioritised in 2019.

Next year’s event focuses on Hall 1 in 2019. The highlights from Les Atéliers, i.e. the best creations by independent watchmakers, will be presented in Hall 1.0 South, which was not used last year. Hall 1.1 will be the venue for ‘The Loop’, an area which will present an
exhibition about the art of watchmaking.

On the jewellery side, a new ‘Show Plaza’ in Hall 1.2, will bring together the best jewellery manufacturers, while a 240° catwalk with numerous LED screens will make it possible to display jewellery in new innovative ways. The chief exec says this aread will be used for a wholly revised press day and a retailer summit, which will also be taking place for the first time.

Furthermore, 2019 will feature a diverse selection of catering options, ranging from takeaway to an exclusive three-star restaurant, which will be available for exhibitors and visitors.

Loris-Melikoff also announced intensive discussions with representatives of Basel’s hotel and restaurant industry, with the goal of achieving constructive solutions. The objective is to draw up and sign a ‘Charta’ with partner hotels to guarantee a reasonable price level. In return, Baselworld would recommend the hotels as the show’s partners.

A new communications strategy, which works with innovative digital formats and offers the brands a year-round stage for their products, will also be implemented.

The chatbot, which was introduced in the 2018 edition and brings all relevant information directly to the user’s mobile telephone via messaging services, will be expanded to include services such as ticketing and navigation and will also be extended onto WeChat for the Asian audience.

Mr Loris-Melikoff insists these new ideas were all developed in coordination with Baselworld’s exhibitors.

“Of course, I received inputs and these were accordingly taken into consideration. All of our ideas are conceived in close coordination with our exhibitors,” he concludes.

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