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A deteriorating economic environmentBaselworld 2015 begins with inaugural press conference

The undisputedly premier event that unites key players from all sectors of the global watch and jewellery industry under one roof, Baselworld 2015 commenced this morning with the inaugural press conference.

The conference hall was filled with key players representing the print, TV and digital media from every continent who were eagerly awaiting the Baselworld press conference which marks the start of the landmark event in the annual calendar of the watch and jewellery industry: the show that will unveil the trends of tomorrow.

Mr René Kamm, CEO of the MCH Group, opened the press conference mentioning how proud the group is to have a premium product like Baselworld and to be able to host the most important marketplace and trendsetting event for an amazing industry. He paid tribute to Ms Sylvie Ritter and her team for “once again succeeding in meeting the needs of the market and the industry by developing and perfecting a show that is at the top of the game and spreads its shining light around the world.” He thanked the exhibitors and the press for their contribution towards “creating a unique global impact that underlines Baselworld’s premier position in the watch and jewellery industry.“

Ms Sylvie Ritter, Managing Director of Baselworld, greeted the attendees and remarked on the importance of the show, adding that as THE ONE unmissable event for the watch and jewellery sector, every year 150,000 professionals come here to feel the pulse of the industry, discover new trends and buy the latest creations from the 1,500 brands. Speaking of Baselworld’s leadership role, Ms Ritter said, “this position has to be defended untiringly, that’s why Baselworld moves forward every year, improving convenience and impact, and never ceases to innovate to meet the constantly evolving requirements.” Addressing the current status, Ms Ritter said that the situation is not ideal and mentioned some challenges facing the industry. She underlined, however, that despite these obstacles, the previous year was an extremely positive one for watches and jewellery, and that “the attractiveness and buzz that this sector creates go on growing,” and equally importantly that the “attraction for consumers and the interest of the media are unflagging,” considering the fact that over 4,000 journalists are expected to attend Baselworld. The press conference was rounded-off with a presentation by Mr François Thiébaud, President of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee.

Commenting on the results of Swiss watch exports, Mr Thiébaud said that the branch continues to closely monitor the evolution of the exchange rate. Even if 2014 ended on a more challenging note, it was a highlevel consolidation year for the Swiss watchmaking industry. Watch exports continued to grow with an increase of 1.9 % compared to 2013, reaching a total value of 22.2 billion francs. 2015 started promisingly at the same level, with exports recorded in January reaching CHF 1.6 billion, up 3.7% year on year! Mr Thiébaud concluded the press conference saying that despite this good result, forecasts for 2015 have been revised as a result of the deteriorating economic environment.

The speakers paid special tribute to industry legend, Mr Jacques J. Duchêne, who unexpectedly passed away during the night. This year would have marked Mr Duchêne's 60th attendance at Baselworld and his 20th anniversary as President of the Exhibitor's Committee.