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Baselworld accuses exhibitors of orchestrating a secret plot to move to Geneva

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The full story may never been known of what went on behind the scenes ahead of Rolex marching out of Baselworld along with Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chopard and Chanel.

There was enormous anger from exhibitors at being refused full refunds of their deposits when Baselworld was forced to postpone from April this year because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Exhibitors also said the dates in January chosen for the 2021 show were wrong and they had not been consulted.

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A statement from MCH Group, owner and organiser of Baselworld, refutes the claim that they did not consult with exhibitors.

“It is with great surprise and equally great regret that the MCH Group takes note of the cancellation of major exhibitors at Baselworld,” the company says.

“The new date for the unavoidable postponement of Baselworld 2020 was defined jointly with leading exhibitors. The objective was to find the earliest and best possible date for the industry following the Covid-19 related measures. The companies now “migrating” — including Rolex — spoke out in favour of a postponement to January 2021,” the statement adds.

Hubert du Plessix, a director of Rolex Holdings, is also president of the Comité des Exposants Suisses [Exhibitors’ Committee} à Baselworld and a member of Baselworld Comité Mondial, said in a letter to Baselworld last week that “dates chosen in January 2021 are not suitable for the jewellery, gemstones and pearls sector, and that coordination with Watches & Wonders (SIHH) no longer exists.”

MCH asserts today that the future vision of Baselworld has been discussed on several occasions with the Exhibitors’ Committee, and the plan had been met with a positive response.

It goes on to accuse the exiting brands of orchestrating their departure before a dispute about repayment of deposits for the 2020 show burst into the open last week.

“The intention to move to Geneva has never been mentioned,” MCH says. “The MCH Group must therefore conclude that the relevant plans have been in preparation for some time and that the discussions concerning the financial arrangements for the cancellation of Baselworld 2020 are now being put forward as an argument.”

Baselworld has not yet been officially cancelled, with its owners saying: “In the next few weeks, the MCH Group will be making a decision on the continuation of Baselworld and on investments in its further development, which is geared to the long term.”

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder