Dissident Basel exhibitors postpone Lausanne show

The 2003 Lausanne, Switzerland, jewelry show planned by exhibitors unhappy with the Basel Fair’s plan to move them to Zurich has been postponed, reliable sources tell JCK. A decision on whether to go ahead with the show in 2004 depends on the results of the Zurich event in 2003.

Management of the watch and jewelry show in Basel, Switzerland, the world’s largest such trade fair, is dividing the Basel show’s vendors in 2003, sending national pavilions (about 600 exhibitors) to a new convention facility in Zurich. Branded watch and jewelry products will remain in Basel. The Basel fair will provide show visitors with transportation to Zurich.

Many exhibitors in the national pavilions were unhappy about the change, claiming they would see fewer buyers and do less business. Some announced in June that they would hold their own show in Lausanne in 2003, immediately before the Basel show, instead of going to Zurich. Since then, the Basel Fair management has lobbied actively to convince affected exhibitors to go to Zurich.

The decision to postpone the Lausanne show followed the Hong Kong Jewelry and Watch Fair (Sept. 25-29). Organizers of the Lausanne show, which already had signed up 280 exhibitors , hoped to get 100 to 150 more from Hong Kong, which was expected to influence other vendors from India, Taiwan, and elsewhere to join. Hong Kong companies were among those most unhappy with the Basel Fair’s plan. However, sources told JCK that leading Hong Kong trade associations were convinced by the Basel Fair management and the Hong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), which organizes Hong Kong’s pavilion at the Basel show and supports other trade fairs involving Hong Kong firms, to go to Zurich, at least for its first year.

Without enough exhibitors to meet their minimum of 500 exhibitors, organizers of the Lausanne show decided to postpone the event. They were also concerned about the effect of a possible war in Iraq on the travel plans of foreign buyers, especially Americans, in 2003.

With the Lausanne show postponed, many of its intended exhibitors will probably join the Zurich event, although some have said they won’t return to it.

Organizers of the Lausanne show will survey all exhibitors at Zurich, following results of that event in April 2003, to see if there is support for a Lausanne show in 2004.