05 Jul 2020
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Baselworld’s questionable refund policy angers jewellery & watch exhibitors
Organisers in a statement said that a substantial amount of work surrounding the show had already begun and hence financial commitment towards the same had already begun. The organisers have given exhibitors two options, both of which have put exhibitors in a difficult position
By: Diamond World News Service
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Apr 8 2020 1:15PM
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Reference: 24860  

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Courtesy: Baselworld
Courtesy: Baselworld

In a statement released last week, Baselworld said that it had spent a significant amount of money on the show preparation as by the time the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, the show was just a few days away from setting up the fairgrounds.

In an attempt to being fair and conscious of the sentiments of all participants, MCH Group (organizers) claimed that though it has incurred a cost of CHF 18.36 million, it is willing to give exhibitors two options: A, 85% of the fees for Baselworld 2020 will be carried forward to Baselworld 2021; the remaining 15% will serve “partially” to offset out-of-pocket costs already accrued; B, Exhibitors can alternatively request 30% cash refund (provided any advance payments made allow for repayment), while remaining 40% will get carried forward to Baselworld 2021 and 30% will be used to offset against accrued costs.

If an exhibitor does not want to go with either of the above-mentioned options, then he will get invoiced for the costs incurred in accordance with the Supplementary Regulations with Exhibitors (9.1) and offset them against payment made. In simple terms, if an exhibitor has made full payment, he will receive a refund of 30%, and the remaining 70% will be used for covering the costs of Baselworld 2020.

What did not appear in the statement sent to media, but communicated to exhibitors is that a decision has to be arrived before April 30 and the organisers have to be informed about which option the exhibitors are going with, failing which they will be invoiced for the costs incurred. “Our offer is not legally binding and it is only valid till April 30” was part of the communication sent to exhibitors. In the current time of global crisis, the clause regarding the date is being viewed as untimely and insensitive by the industry.

Baselworld’s refund policy is questionable and here’s why

First, this was a cancellation done by the Swiss government not by the exhibitors, so the latter should help Basel with the losses incurred. Secondly, the organizers haven’t postponed the show, they have cancelled it altogether. The show dates of the 2021 (28 Jan – 2 Feb) edition is also tricky as it falls in the midst of a plethora of other shows like Vicenza, Tuscon, Tokyo and Miami amongst others. In a matter of a couple of weeks there are about 8 shows and one wonders how Baselworld might fit into this timeline.

2021 Show Dates

Tokyo 13-16 Jan
Miami Beach Antique Show 22-26 Jan
Vicenza 22-27 Jan
Baselworld 28 Jan - 2 Feb
Tucson  2 Feb - 7 Feb
Bangkok Show 3rd week of Feb
Hong Kong Show End of Feb - Early March
   

Exhibitors from gems and jewellery as well as the watch fraternity are unhappy with this decision, considering from where they are sitting, it does look like a win-win situation for Baselworld. As a matter of fact, Hubert du Plessix, Director Rolex SA & Rolex Holding SA, wrote a letter to the management of Baselworld criticizing the dates of Baselworld 2021 and asking for a fairer refund policy for exhibitors. Plessix wrote, “This lack of consideration on the part of the leaders of the MCH Group unfortunately recalls an era that we thought was over. Full refund would be the best way to encourage exhibitors who can participate in a future edition of Baselworld. Otherwise, we fear that this will be the end, pure and simple, of Baselworld, especially since the dates chosen in January 2021 are not suitable for the jewellery, gemstones and pearls sector, and that coordination with Watches & Wonders (SIHH) no longer exists,” reports Watchpro.

However, right now, option A looks like the best scenario for exhibitors if they want to make the most out of this current scenario. Exhibitors are currently in talks about how best to tackle this situation and across the board, they are demanding the organizers to at least change the 2021 show dates to April.  

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