Dissident Basel vendors will hold own 4-day show

Delegations of jewelry and gem exhibitors from 14 nations have decided to leave the Basel 2003 international watch and jewelry fair and start their own show, JCK has learned. The Swiss fair is the world’s largest such trade fair. The foreign delegations oppose the plan of Basel fair management to send the foreign pavilions to Zurich to exhibit. Individual exhibitors who are not part of national pavilions are not affected by that plan, and will remain in Basel.

Members of the organizing committee of the 14 national delegations opposed to the move have “resolved to set up their own fair at Lausanne, Switzerland,” said committee chairman Prida Tiasuwan in a message to JCK on June 30. Tiasuwan is executive chairman of The Pranda Group, a leader in Thailand’s jewelry and gem trades.

The new show will be a four-day fair and will “start and finish before [the Basel Fair],” he said, although the dates and location haven’t yet been officially announced.

The new show will be “a fair for manufacturers of jewelry, gemstones, pearls and diamonds, and will be owned and run by the trade associations of each country,” said Tiasuwan.

The Basel Fair management has said the move to Zurich is necessary because the exhibition halls in Basel have run out of space. The committee of the dissident exhibitors met this June with the Basel Fair organizing committee to ask Basel fair management to change its mind, or at least hold the Zurich portion of the 2003 show before the Basel segment so buyers could attend both. Members of the foreign pavilions worry that, despite Basel show-provided shuttles for the hour-long trip to Zurich, they’ll see far fewer buyers and much less business then they did in Basel.

As of June 30, there was “no official reply from the Basel organizers” on the delegations’ request, said Tiasuwan. However, he continued, “it has now became clear that the organizer will follow through with the plan of moving [the foreign pavilions to Zurich].” As a result, said Tiasuwan, the 14 foreign delegations decided to go ahead and start their own show.

Tiasuwan was elected chairman of the committee for the dissident exhibitor groups on June 3, at a meeting held during The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas. Countries represented at that meeting included Great Britain, Thailand, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Brazil, and Spain. Tiasuwan said a total of 14 delegations were ready to pull out.

At press time, it wasn’t known if any or all of the sizeable Hong Kong delegation, which has some 325 exhibitors, would go to ZurichFour of the Hong Kong group’s six delegations are jewelry and gem exhibitors, while the other two represent watch and clock companies. Some Hong Kong exhibitors were among early opponents of the move. But timepiece vendors are reportedly worried that while the new Lausanne show might attract jewelry buyers, most watch buyers would skip it for Basel.

Because of a national holiday, officials of the Hong Kong groups couldn’t be reached at press time for comment. However, members of the Basel Fair management traveled to Hong Kong in late June to meet with officials at the annual meeting of directors of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which organizes the Hong Kong pavilion at Basel and, if there are no changes, at Zurich. Basel 2003 was one of the topics on that meeting’s agenda.

In an interview in the June issue of The Basel Magazine, René Kamm, MCH Swiss Exhibition’s general manager of global exhibitions, said that a third of the space in Zurich was already booked by members of various national pavilions.

As an inducement, the basic price for space in Zurich, he told the magazine, is 10% less than in Basel’s halls, and exhibitors booking space before Aug. 1 will get another 10% discount, making space in Zurich 20% less expensive than in Basel.