Hong Kong, other delegations might leave Basel Show over Zurich move

Members of the Hong Kong delegation at the Basel World Watch and Jewelry Show have threatened to leave the show, JCK has learned, if the show management forces national delegations to move to Zurich next year. The show, held each spring in Basel, Switzerland, is the world’s largest watch and jewelry show.

The Hong Kong delegation is the show’s largest, with 325 exhibitors out of a total 2,200.

The Basel fair management last year decided to split the show in two beginning in 2003, with individual watch and jewelry brands and support industries exhibiting in Basel, and national pavilions moving to Zurich, where the management also operates a trade show operation. The Basel fair will provide shuttle service for the one-hour drive between Basel and Zurich.

Representatives of the Hong Kong exhibitors, including delegates from two watch and clock associations and three jewelry associations, met for two hours on Friday, April 5, with René Kamm, general manager of the Basel show and other global exhibitions, and René Duchene, president of the show’s exhibitors’ committee, to express their concerns.

According to B.D. Chow, general manager of the Hong Kong Jewelry Manufacturers Association, the members of the delegation were told that the decision to move to Zurich is final. Monica Guarnaccia, head of marketing and communications for the Fair, confirmed that the management decision to split the show because of space limitations is “final.”

Chow told JCK that representatives of several national groups opposed to the move-including Spain, Italy, Taiwan, South Korea, and Thailand-met for a hour on Saturday, April 8, to discuss their options.

Chow said there was strong opposition to the move and an informal commitment to leave the Basel show if the national groups are forced to move. They are also considering launching their own watch and jewelry show in Europe, possibly around the same time as the Basel show.

Show management had a long-planned meeting scheduled for April 10 with all affected exhibitors (more than 600) to explain in detail its plans for the move. Guarnaccia says that in addition to offering more spacious facilities in Zurich, show management plans to do twice as much show advertising on behalf of the national delegations.