Raymond Weil will not exhibit at Baselworld next year – with its CEO Elie Bernheim admitting that the high-profile withdrawal of Swatch Group from the show “reinforced” its decision.
In an interview published by Swiss newspaper Le Temps this week, Mr Bernheim said that “developments in the watch industry” had pushed it to review its strategy after participating at Basel for more than 40 years.
He stressed that the decision was “not a direct consequence” of Swatch’s move, but acknowledged that it “reinforced” the fact he was not crazy for thinking about whether it was time to abandon the show.
Since the announcement of Swatch’s departure in July and the end of August, Raymond Weil has had no contact with the show’s organisers, Mr Bernheim claimed.
“It bothered me to be in such a total unknown without any visibility on next year. For example, what will they do instead of the one-third of the main hall that was occupied by the Swatch Group brands?”
And he questioned whether distributors would still travel to Basel in the absence of so many notable brands being present, pointing out that companies such as Raymond Weil gained from their pull.
“Raymond Weil benefitted directly from the aura of Swatch Group. Longines, Tissot, Omega, Hamilton or Rado are all bands that are in my competitive environment. I’m not sure that distributors will continue to come Basel of these brands are no longer there.”
Put to him that the likes of Rolex or Patek Philippe would attract visitors, he replied: “Their customers are just now mine…”
Mr Bernheim said that Raymond Weil would now explore other ways to engage with partners and customers, such as roadshows and online initiatives.
Meanwhile, in an official statement circulated to the media this morning, Raymond Weil reiterated that it will not be present at Baselworld 2019.
In the statement, Mr Bernheim said: “Evolutions in the watch industry have pushed us to review our strategy. One must know how to adapt to one’s era. Today, the distribution channels articulate themselves around a more direct way of consumption, especially with the arrival of online sales. In a world that constantly evolves, communication is based on a more direct and spontaneous process of distribution. It is more client oriented, rather than B2B which is mainly what Baselworld represents.”