22 Jul 2019
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Participants divided on Baselworld; low footfall plays spoilsport but jewellers are hoping for a buoyant future
The 6-day show witnessed a very low footfall but a decrease in participation costs combined with a few other strategic changes next may give the show its lustre back
By: Diamond World News Service
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Mar 27 2019 3:11PM
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Reference: 17109  

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A lot has worked against one of the biggest and oldest jewellery and watch fairs in the world. Baselworld received its biggest blow when the Swatch Group pulled out this year along with the exodus of a host of other brands. Ever since this downfall, the show has considerably downsized and has made a few changes like the new layout and a few strategic events to attract more crowds. Did it help? Not really.

 "The footfall was relatively less as compared to the previous year; the buyers are similar to what we witnessed in Hong Kong show only difference is that here the number is less," says Rishabh Tongya of Diacolor. The numbers have decreased drastically over the last three years and this year it stands between 500-600 with the weekend having witnessed the most number of visitors. Says Sudeep Sethi of Manak Jewels, “The show started slow but gained momentum later. With the understanding of the European market and the Baselworld fair, it was anticipated that the show would be slow. Lot of giant exhibitors and Swatch group not seen this year made the show lose its lustre and affected the number of buyers at large.” 

 A fewer number of exhibitors also meant that a majority of buyers from big brands left the show early after having met their prospective dealers through prefixed appointments. This obviously didn’t fly well with the exhibitors considering the inflow of visitors was not equally distributed through all six days. Says Dharmendra Tank of Heeralal Chhaganlal Tank, “The visitor footfall was definitely low but we only witnessed quality buyers. Everybody who were walking in were serious and genuine buyers. The organizers really listened to our problems and are considering to come down on the prices for 2020.”

One of the biggest drawbacks of the show and also a main reason for the exit of many brands was the show’s skyrocketing costs. However, next year, the show’s cost is expected to come down by at least 10-15 per cent. The new MD of MCH Group, Michel Loris-Melikoff also spoke of a set of new changes that would be implemented next year including a new pricing model. The general feedback was that Melikoff seemed very promising. He apparently visited the booths personally and tried to understand what was missing and why the show had lost its charm over the years.  

There is talk of allowing exhibitors to fabricate their own booth and the accommodation availability will increase leading to cost cut down. The Basel Council has allowed airbnb to allow residents to rent out their apartments. All of this definitely will play a major role in bringing back the traction to the show. “Layout for the next year will change, rates will decrease, increased customer profiling and the show combined with SIHH will be good. But looking at the show this year, the show has to deliver more than it has committed next year,” adds Sethi.

 While a few gem dealers said that the demand for gemstones were not extraordinary and closing was difficult owing to high price difference, Tank says, “Colour stones did quite well. Considering the uncertainty in the diamond market at the moment, there is a requirement for colour gemstones across the board. Paraíbas especially did very well. The demand was steady from all the regions.”

 A lot rests on the big watch brands of course, considering Baselworld at the end of the day is mainly a watch show. There was talk that if Rolex and Patek also decide to exit, that will be the end of the show. The watch industry is also going through a rough phase with demand in the Chinese market hitting an all time low. European markets are not showing growth and digital watches have disrupted the traditional watch models. “Baselworld will always have its charm. A lot of big gold and diamond jewellery brands are still very much here. If they continue to stay in the show, the Hall of Elements where all the gemstone dealers are will definitely get serious buyers.”

The downsizing of the show has also worked well for a few exhibitors. The atmosphere was cozy and fewer players meant less competition.

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