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Baselworld bosses brush aside concerns over industry uncertainty

Baselworld 2016 1

Baselworld officially got underway this morning, with the show’s organisers confident that new global innovations in watch design will generate record levels of business activity over the next eight days.

Yesterday saw Baselworld holds its inaugural press conference, with representatives from print, TV and digital invited to hear what this year’s event has in store. WatchPro and sister publication Professional Jeweller were both in attendance as officials gave their take on the exhibition.

René Kamm, CEO of the MCH Group, said the first Baselworld hosted just 29 exhibitors compared to the 1,500 companies involved this time around. Around 20% of those are based in Switzerland.

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“Reaching this esteemed position is mostly thanks to the commitment of the exhibitors whose very presence contributes to being the most important factor in the appeal of Baselworld,” said Kamm. He added that the leading watch brands should be commended for their ability to continually deliver “state-of-the-art” innovations that determine the trends of tomorrow.

Sylvie Ritter, managing director of Baselworld, followed on by insisting that Baselworld had become the “most eagerly awaited” show in the watch and jewellery calendar.

She said there were a number of points that made the show stand out. “It’s unique because Baselworld is the nerve centre for the watch and jewellery industry where the pulse of the business is taken; unique because the most prestigious brands, most influential retailers and most prominent journalists gather under one roof; and unique because year after year this is the birthplace of trends that will prevail for the following 12 months.”

Ritter didn’t dodge the issue of the “gloomy” economic situation facing the industry, acknowledging that Baselworld had felt the uncertainty of some exhibitors, particularly smaller businesses that find it harder to prevail in times of low demand in the mid-term.

But despite these uncertainties, she stated that “almost all” of the companies that had exhibited at Baselworld last year had returned for 2016.

“They have faith in Baselworld and know that we will continue to move forward, continue to invest in the future, and further increase the quality and attractiveness of this event to strengthen the leadership role Baselworld plays,” she declared.

The conference also saw officials make reference to the performance of the Swiss watch export market. They said the sector weakened by 3.3% last year, but noted that Swiss watchmaking had grown by more than 60% since 2010.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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