Visitors are seen during the press day of Baselworld watch and jewellery show on March 22, 2017 in Basel. The world's biggest watch fair will open in Switzerland this week, even as slumping exports of luxury Swiss timepieces appear to dash hopes of a market rebound. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

UK jewellers have revealed they will still be going to Baselworld next year, but agree it’s time for drastic changes to be made.

Speaking to our sister publication, WatchPro, leading jewellery retailers expressed disappoint in Swatch Group’s decision to withdraw, but indicated this would not be a reason for them to stop visiting the show in Switzerland,

Harry Brown, managing director of Chisholm Hunter, which is one of Swatch Group’s biggest retail partners in the UK, says he trusts the group’s chief executive Nick Hayek, made the decision for sound strategic reasons.


“We have been working alongside the Swatch Group for a number of years and they have always been most valued partners to Chisholm Hunter. Although it is a shame that the Swatch Group will no longer be part of Baselworld, when you take in to account how considered Mr Hayek is in conducting his business, I am sure this change has been well thought through. We keenly look forward to seeing the Swatch Groups exciting proposals for future shows and exhibitions,” Mr Brown says.

Anna Blackburn, managing director of Beaverbrooks, says she is also disappointed that Swatch Group is leaving Baselworld, noting the exit will “weaken the fair”.

When asked how Baselworld could improve, she responds: “What would make it better? Swatch returning, decent hotels and reasonable prices and reasonably priced restaurants.”

Baselworld owner and organiser MCH Group, said this week that it has been speaking to Basel’s hospitality industry, with the goal of persuading partner hotels to “guarantee reasonable prices”.

The exhibition’s new managing director, Michel Loris-Melikoff, adds that 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 insists.

He made no mention of speaking to retailers and other visitors.

Some encouraging news for Baselworld is that none of the British industry executives speaking to WatchPro this week say they will stop attending.

The reaction of Adam Spiers, director of Michael Spiers, a chain of luxury jewellers in the Southwest of England, is typical of the wider industry. “In some ways it feels like the end of an era as the Swatch Group has always played such an important role in Baselworld. If they do end their relationship, I believe the show will change quite dramatically — just from the perspective of the show loosing 18 Swatch Group watch brands from Hall 1. However, as an official retailer of Rolex, Patek Philippe, Breitling and Tag Heuer, the show will continue to be a firm fixture in our calendar.”