The dramatic exit of anchor brands like Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor may have sounded like the death knell to Baselworld for many of us, but there was still a glimmer of hope that MCH Group will step up and right some wrongs. In our editor’s op-ed, one thing was clear: Baselworld needed to act. And today, it seems like we’re all on our way to an amicable solution.

MCH Group announced today that it has reached an agreement on the settlement for the cancelled Baselworld 2020 with representatives of exhibitors. The solution is made in collaboration with the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, of which Hubert J. du Plessix is the President. To refresh your memory, du Plessix was also the one who led the charge against MCH Group, having written a scathing letter to Michel Loris-Melikoff, Managing Director of Baselworld, to reject their refund proposals back in early April.

“I welcome the constructive attitude of the representatives of the MCH Group, which has enabled us to find a balanced solution”, says du Plessix in the announcement released by Baselworld. “I would also like to thank Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor, Chanel, Chopard, Hublot, Zenith and Tag Heuer, who, in a spirit of solidarity with the sector as a whole, have agreed to a lower refund so that the other exhibitors can benefit from better conditions.”

You can read up on how the brands above decided to quit Baselworld here and here.

Bernd Stadlwieser, CEO of the MCH Group, stresses: “We are pleased to have worked together and, in just a short time, found a solution that is acceptable to everyone. In the light of the large loss of revenue due to COVID-19 and our responsibility to all our stakeholder groups, this solution marks the limit of what is possible for us. With the amicable settlement for Baselworld 2020, we can now concentrate fully on the future.”

But this future does not seem to include a Baselworld 2021, which was originally planned for 28 January to 2 February 2021. That plan is now off the table, with Loris-Melikoff saying that Baselworld will be looking at alternative formats.

Many questions are yet to be answered, including what agreement has been reached with the smaller brands (we only know the big brands agreed to a lower refund). Will the big anchor brands return to Baselworld in 2022? What exactly is the future of Baselworld?

“Together with the exhibitors and visitors, we are working intensively on clarifying and discussing the requirements and options for new platforms,” says Loris-Melikoff. “We will be taking a decision on possible follow-up formats by the summer and will then provide information on the new concept and scheduling.”

So maybe Baselworld hasn’t quite screwed itself to oblivion just yet, but they still have work to do picking up the pieces. But for now, it’s great to see Baselworld finally getting rid of jargon and calling Baselworld 2020 for what it is: cancelled, not postponed.

Latest Updates

We reached out to Baselworld who was quick to come back with the following replies to our query.

First things first, not only is the date of January 2021 dropped, but the name of Baselworld is also going to be dropped. Essentially, the Baselworld as we know it has really truly come to an end.

A new format and new destination will be chosen once Baselworld has consulted all 600 exhibitors from the three industries. Currently, Baselworld is conducting a survey to identify the needs and wishes of its participants.

The refund proposed and accepted by the exhibitors’ representatives and major brands (Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard and LVMH) who sit on the Comité Consultatif, consists of two-thirds cash reimbursement for exhibitors, and one-third of the costs to be borne all together. Citing the reason that the big brands leaving for Geneva overtake more in participation, to help the smaller and medium-sized companies, they have agreed to a shoulder the bigger burden. Exhibitors have until 31 May to request for reimbursement.

Read here for our exclusive on the Baselworld settlement.