U.S. delegation won’t go to Zurich, says MJSA President

The United States delegation of exhibitors won’t participate in the Basel Fair’s plan to send its foreign vendors to Zurich to exhibit in 2003, JCK has learned.

“We aren’t planning to be there [in Zurich],” James F. Marquart, president of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA), told JCK on June 10. “The reason is location, location, location.” MJSA has been the organizer of the American pavilion of exhibitors (about 20 vendors) at the annual international watch and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland, for more than a decade.

The U.S. delegation was absent from this year’s Basel Fair because, Marquart told JCK, “they pulled our space” six months before the Fair began in March.

Though it won’t go to Zurich, Marquart said the U.S. group might still be interested in exhibiting in Basel “if they provide space.”

“But they [the Basel Fair management] haven’t called us [since the space was pulled], and we haven’t gotten any applications from them to apply for the [2003] show.” The deadline for applying for participation is in early July.

The Basel Fair management said that it is sending foreign delegations to Zurich (which it owns a new exhibition hall) because the Basel Fair halls have run out of space. Individual watch and jewelry brands would continue to exhibit in Basel. There were plans to open a casino in one of the Fair’s building, but the Swiss government disapproved that plan. Some critics of the move to Zurich argue that since the casino won’t happen space is no longer a critical issue.

Delegations of jewelry exhibitors from 14 nations have made tentative plans to hold their own show in Lusanne, Switzerland, next year, if the Basel Fair insists on sending them to Zurich. A committee representing the dissident exhibitor groups was formed June 3 in a meeting during the international JCK Show in Las Vegas, Nev. The delegations have asked the Basel Fair to reconsider its plan. A reply to them from the Basel Show management was expected this month.

However, if the dissident vendors go ahead with their own show, Marquart said MJSA would be interested in participating, though “we would have to look first at such matters as demographics and how it would be financed.”