The Strategist

Swatch Group is leaving Basel Fair

07/30/2018 - 15:27

Head of the largest Swiss watch-manufacturing group owned by the Hayek family, Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek said that he intends to withdraw all watch and jewelry brands from the Basel Fair next year. This is a blow to Baselworld, a gift to its competitors and, at the same time, a sign of profound changes in the marketing strategy of luxury groups.

Mike Mozart via flickr
Mike Mozart via flickr
Nick Hayek told about his decision journalists of the Sunday issue of the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and this news instantly became a sensation. The Basel Watch Fair is a symbol of the Swiss watch. It’s been running since 1917, has become specialized since 1931, and international - since 1986. The fair is held in the spring and gathers together nearly 150 thousand visitors under the roof of a recently rebuilt complex in Basel. its total space reaches 141 thousand square meters since the reconstruction, which ended five years ago, involved the famous Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron of Herzog & de Meuron.

The Swatch Group is one of the symbols of Swiss watchmaking. It consists of 18 brands, including Omega and Longines, the two luxury brands (out of five in the watch world) with a turnover of more than 1 billion Swiss francs. There are also the oldest and most authoritative brand Breguet, experts in new materials Rado, makers of mechanisms for 2/3 of Swiss enterprises ETA, leaders in their price group Tissot. In addition to the Swiss-born brands, the group includes Americans Harry Winston and Germans Glashütte Original.

The Swatch Group is now in a better position in recent years. In 2018, a growth of 14.7% was recorded, the company's turnover reached a record 4.27 billion Swiss francs. After four years, during which the group, forced to retreat to prepared positions, experienced a general crisis of watchmaking, a prospect appeared. Swatch Group can congratulate itself on the fact that during this time it did not lose its capacities, did not fire employees, did not stop technical development and re-branding. On the contrary, the group opened new Omega buildings designed by the famous Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

Meanwhile, the popularity of Basel continues to fall. This year the time of the fair was reduced by two days, and of the 1,300 brands that participated earlier, only 700 remained.

Many brands are dissatisfied with the exhibition’s organization and prices that did not correspond to the services received in return. The question of the participation of one of the pillars of the fair, Swatch Group, was to somehow arise, since the long-term contract with the SIT group (which organizes both the Basel watch fair and Art Basel) was drawing to a close. Now Nick Hayek confirmed that he does not plan to renew it.