Baselworld has called off this year’s fair after Swiss authorities banned large-scale events because of the coronavirus.
Show organizer MCH Group has postponed the event — which had been scheduled to take place April 30 to May 5 in Basel, Switzerland — to January 28 to February 2, 2021, it said Friday. From then on, the fair will take place at the beginning of each year, in accordance with many participants’ requests, a Baselworld source told Rapaport News Sunday.
While the government may lift its ban by April, MCH had to make the decision immediately, as construction of the show’s infrastructure was due to take place at the beginning of March, the group said last week.
“We have found a solution that enables the industry and all our customers to avoid losing a full year and at the same time reset their calendars for the beginning of the year, a period that is conductive to the presentation of their new products, new trends and order taking,” Baselworld managing director Michel Loris-Melikoff said.
The postponement is the latest hit to the show, which has been working to overhaul its model following several high-profile departures last year, including Swatch Group and Maurice Lacroix. Breitling, Bulgari and Gucci had already announced their exits from the 2020 edition.
“We deeply regret having had to postpone the event as planned due to the coronavirus,” Loris-Melikoff added. “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.”
Last week, Watches & Wonders Geneva, formerly Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), announced the cancellation of this year’s show due to the risks of travel and international gatherings. That show had been set to take place in April, directly before Baselworld.
MCH Group plans to turn Baselworld into a global community and platform that is active throughout the year, according to CEO Bernd Stadlwieser.
“In the coming weeks, we will be presenting a new digital service that is essential and useful to our entire community, and which we trust will meet the needs of the brands that have become even more important in these difficult and turbulent times,” he added.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has also issued a warning about the coronavirus to the Belgian diamond industry, given the number of visitors to the bourse. While there are currently no reported cases in Belgium, AWDC has urged its members to remain calm and not panic, and has published preventive measures to help slow the virus’s spread.
Image: The entrance to the Baselworld fair. (MCH Group)