Basel show will send national delegations to Zurich in 2003

The international Basel watch and jewelry show, the world’s largest such trade fair, will be held in two Swiss cities starting in 2003, says its management.

Brand name watch and jewelry firms, and those services that support them, will continue to exhibit in Basel, Switzerland.

National or “country” pavilions, comprised primarily of non-branded watch and jewelry firms, and related support and service exhibitors, will be relocated to Zurich, and exhibit simultaneously.

The national delegations, comprising some 600 exhibitors, currently exhibit in the Basel Fair’s large Building 3.

The change, approved by the show’s exhibitors committee on Oct. 2, is due to “the steadily growing demand for exhibition space [in the Basel show] for brand name watches and jewelry, especially in the `prestige’ (or luxury) sectors,” says a statement by the Basel Fair management. The new arrangement, it says, will give exhibitors in both Basel and Zurich more space in which to expand.

The original plan of transferring all support and service exhibitors to Zurich “has been shelved,” says the statement.

Basel show officials have promised to provide free shuttle service between the Basel and Zurich fairgrounds. (Zurich is about an hour from Basel by train).

Basel Fair management officials have said since early this year that the show must reorganize and use additional trade show facilities in Zurich to provide more space, hold onto important exhibitors and thrive in the coming years.

The show-which now has some 2,300 exhibitors in five large two- and three-story buildings in Basel-has run out of space for current exhibitors to expand. (Luxury watch brands, for example, now build ”upwards,” with two- and three-floor stands.) New exhibitors can’t be added. In fact, the Fair’s management wants to reduce its 2,300 exhibitors in Basel to about 1,700 (on the same amount of space).

Basel officials have said that the move will free up some 25,000 additional square meters for the Basel fair and also hotel space in the little Swiss city on the Rhine. (Basel is usually so crowded at show time that many foreign visitors must lodge as far way as Lucerne or Zurich, or in nearby Germany or France.)