Baselworld’s plan to rebuild after synchronising the timing of the exhibition with SIHH from 2020 onwards will not be enough to tempt Swatch Group brands back.
In a press conference accompanying the publishing of Swatch Group’s 2018 annual report, chief executive Nick Hayek suggested that annual mega fairs have had their day.
“There’s no need for it anymore,” Mr Hayek said. “The world has changed.”
Shares in MCH Group, which owns Baselworld, have plummeted in value since Swatch Group pulled out of Baselworld. In May last year shares were trading at over CHF 80. Today they are priced at under CHF 20.
This year’s Baselworld, which begins next week, will still have over 500 brands exhibiting, including the world’s most powerful watchmakers Rolex and Patek Philippe.
The show will be used to unveil a dramatically different show from 2020 onwards that will prioritise attracting consumers rather than retailers and press.
Baselworld’s new managing director Michel Loris-Melikoff, who is taking charge for the first time this year, admits that the number of exhibitors is a disappointment, but urges the industry to focus on improvements to the experience and look forward to the major relaunch of the show in 2020.
“This number [500 brands] is smaller than it was in 2018 and certainly lower than we had hoped”, says Mr Loris-Melikoff. “I am accordingly confident that with our new concepts and offers we will be able to score points with exhibitors and visitors alike and that together we will achieve the turnaround. The process of transforming Baselworld into an experience platform is in full swing. We also plan to use this year’s show as an opportunity to present our vision for Baselworld 2020 and subsequent years to exhibitors and all interested parties. We have already received very good feedback from important exhibitors on the approach sketched in that vision,” he adds.