Baselworld, one of the trade’s major fine jewellery and watch events, has become the latest casualty of the novel coronavirus outbreak, with organisers cancelling this year’s edition.
Citing health and safety reasons and the ban on large-scale public and private events in Switzerland, Baselworld said the fair, originally scheduled for April 30 to May 5 this year, will now be held from January 28 to February 2, 2021.
The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, has so far infected more than 85,000 people in close to 60 countries around the world.
Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of Baselworld, commented, “We deeply regret having had to postpone the event as planned due to the coronavirus. This decision has been all the more difficult in view of all the positives that have been achieved through listening and dialogue over the last few months, which resulted in new concepts and new solutions, that have attracted exhibitors to return and new ones to sign on.”
Some Baselworld exhibitors supported the move to defer the event to 2021 while a few companies refused to comment, saying only that they are still evaluating the situation.
“I agree with the decision of Baselworld even though we don’t know how things are going to be eight weeks from now,” noted Jörg Gellner of Gellner Gmbh & Co KG. “Considering the latest information that we have now, I feel that it was the right call.”
He also cited potential negative impact on the business, which is not directly linked with the show’s postponement, but more specifically due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I assume Couture and JCK in Las Vegas are still on schedule, but this could change if the situation in the US escalates,” added Gellner. “However, I don’t agree with the March Hong Kong Fairs being moved to May as it’s too close to the Jewellery & Gem ASIA Hong Kong.”
Thibaud Jaquen, sales and operations director for the Asia Pacific region at Charriol, echoed Gellner’s sentiment.
“The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise and there’s no vaccine yet – all the more reason to postpone the fair. If the show pushes through, we can expect fewer visitors, particularly from Asia. There would be zero business for many brands in that case,” remarked Jacquen.
Brands in the meantime can restructure their organisations and their collections to establish stronger relationships with their clients, he added.
Marcus Oliver Mohr of Victor Mayer meanwhile said Baselworld organisers coud have taken more time to decide on the matter.
"It's difficult to understand why the management had to postpone the exhibition. They could have waited for a few more weeks to see if this is necessary," noted Mohr. "It's certainly a disaster for exhibitors, especially for smaller companies who stand to lose from not participating in a show with many international contacts."
The company however is looking forward to learning more about Baselworld's digital strategies, he added.
According to Baselworld, postponing the show to January 2021 helped the industry avoid “losing a full year and at the same time reset their calendars for the beginning of the year,” which is the best time to present new products, trends and take orders.