This past Sunday Nick Hayek Jr, CEO of the Swatch Group (hereafter ‘SG’), announced that SG would not be present at Baselworld 2019 (you can catch up here if this is news). Being Baselworld’s biggest customer, this is of course quite devastating news for the fair’s organizers, the MCH Group. One very outspoken & familiar voice has now added his personal insight; Mr Jean-Claude Biver, President of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy SA’s watch division (hereafter ‘LVMH’). LVMH’s watch division houses brands such as Bulgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer, Zenith, Louis Vuitton.
Mr Biver sat down with the team of Bilan.CH for a brief interview, where he commented on the situation and also provided further insight into LVMH’s own thinking. First and foremost, Mr Biver once again confirmed that LVMH would ‘not leave Baselworld 2019’. This confirmation is essential to Baselworld’s survival. If LVMH were to exit, the fair can pretty much close its doors. When asked about the announcement made by SG, Mr Biver commented:
“It is not up to me to comment on the Swatch Group policy, especially since I do not know the reasons behind this decision. As far as we are concerned, this is not the decision we are going to take, because we will stay in Basel until at least 2019. If we are asked, we will participate in the development of a new Baselworld for the future.“
Very clear as always. One can’t help but notice yet another industry exec stating that they’d be happy to help develop Baselworld to this new age – if only they were asked. This is much the same feeling that one could get when reading the Swatch statement & reasoning for leaving the fair.
When asked whether SG can do without such a major international event, he replied quite strategically while reinforcing that need for change:
“In its current format, I think some brands or groups could do without Basel. On the other hand, we decided to give Baselworld another chance to renew and adapt to the needs and constraints of the 21st century and also to present a new concept and a new form of exhibition.“
While I can’t read his mind, this sounds like another diplomatic warning shot at the fair’s organizers, clearly outlining that there is a need for change. He further confirms what we (and many others) also mentioned when we reflected on this news, the fair can exist without SG present, as long as the other big brands and groups remain – but it needs to adapt sooner rather than later.
“As far as we are concerned,[…] we will stay in Baselworld until at least 2019” – Jean-Claude Biver
For the full original interview (in french), please have a look here