BaselWorld cancels ‘Basel Forum’ and luxury trends report

BaselWorld’s annual “The Basel Forum” on luxury retailing, and its annual survey of trends in luxury products have been cancelled, JCK has learned. Neither met the show management’s expectations, says a spokesman for BaselWorld, held annually in Basel, Switzerland.

The forum was launched at the Fair in 2000 as a high-profile event where hot-button issues, especially those affecting luxury products, were discussed by industry leaders and retailers. However, it “hasn’t been as successful as we hoped,” says Bernard Keller, BaselWorld’s director of communications. It attracted fewer journalists and retailers than expected. Also, exhibitors were unhappy it took those people outside the show at one of its busiest times (Sunday) and from the new products and plans they presented.

As for the luxury trends report, introduced with some fanfare last year in Europe, the United States and Asia, “the first one is probably the last one,’ said Keller, because, “it didn’t meet our expectations.” While BaselWorld is “a world-class show concerned with all world markets,” the first report—done for it by Ipsos, a French market research firm—focused primarily on Europe. However, an adequate, in-depth annual survey of all major world markets would be “too large and costly,” he noted. Besides, said Keller, “I doubt that [i.e., such surveys] is really our job.”

Instead of such high-profile events, “BaselWorld is focusing on our exhibitors. They and their new products and services—and providing the platform for them to present those here—are what’s most important.”

In addition, The Basel Prize for new jewelry designers, also unveiled in 2000, remains on hold. (It wasn’t presented last year.) It’s still under review by show management and could reappear in the next couple years.

Keller said the changes “have no relation at all” to January’s changes in show management, including a new show director, a new communications director, and other changes in personnel assignments.

BaselWorld 2004 will be held Apr. 15-22. New features include a new building specifically for its “Hall of the Universe,” housing the show’s dozens of national pavilions. The new building (Hall 6) is scheduled to be officially opened at noon on Apr. 15 by local and federal Swiss government officials and dignitaries representing the national delegations.