BaselWorld 2013 opens to optimism

BaselWorld 2013 opened yesterday against a backdrop of a Swiss watch industry that is at "the pinnacle of its growth".

The optimistic message was delivered by president of the Exhibitors’ Committee Jacques Duchêne at yesterday’s opening ceremony for the 2013 watch and jewellery fair.

At the conference, which also featured key BaselWorld personnel including MCH Group CEO René Kamm and BaselWorld managing director Sylvie Ritter, Duchêne also pointed out that since 1999 the Swiss watch industry has doubled its export figures and in 2012 broke all its previous records.

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Reinforcing Duchêne’s sentiment, chairman of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee François Thiébaud, highlighted the growth of the watch exports over the past five years, particularly mechanical watches. He said that Swiss watch exports in March 2013 had a total value of CHF1.6 billion (£1.1bn), up 2% on March 2013 and that from January to March 2013, Swiss watch export values were at CHF4.7 billion (£3.23bn), with a total growth of 2.4% compared to the same period in March 2012.

Thiébaud added that the results indicated a positive start to 2013, particularly taking into account the continuing turmoil across the global economy and poeple waiting to buy this year because BaselWorld is later than previously.

At the conference, the buoyant Swiss watch industry was also linked to the revealing of the long anticipated redesigned BaselWorld Watch and Jewellery Show with its ultra modern venue. The new hall complex was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, and will house 1,460 exhibitors and an expected 100,000-plus global visitors over the eight day show. As a result of the newly designed halls, approximately 1,000 exhibitors have brought completely new stands to the show.

Talking about BaselWorld’s efforts to develop with the times, Duchêne said that the show has reacted to the substantial change in the watch and jewellery industries that has occurred since 1999.

He stated: "In the course of the past 15 years, the watch and jewellery industry has been through a consolidation process on a scale never witnessed before, and this has also had its effects on the challenges faced by production and marketing, which have changed radically. Now it is a good thing to take note of changes and to adjust to them, but it is even better still to anticipate needs and to be in a position to satisfy them without delay when they arise."

He went onto say that BaselWorld has responded to these needs, with the new infrastructure allowing the show to be able to accommodate the future needs of both visitors and exhibitors and with quality taking precedence over quantity.

The redevelopment of the BaselWorld venue has been five years in development and planning, three years in construction and has cost CHF430 million (£296.9m).

Also speaking at the conference, BaselWorld managing director Sylvie Ritter said: "D day is here at last, marking a further milestones in the history of BaselWorld. We have promised you a new era and it has been a long and sometimes arduous journey but always very exciting."