By Michelle Graff
Sylvie Ritter, pictured here third from left at the opening press conference for the 2017 edition of Baselworld, is stepping down after 15 years as the watch and jewelry trade show’s managing director.
Basel, Switzerland--Sylvie Ritter has resigned as the managing director of Baselworld as the European watch and jewelry trade show struggles with declining attendance and a mass exodus among exhibitors.

The MCH Group, the Swiss trade show company that owns and operates Baselworld, made the announcement Friday, stating that members of the Comité Consultatif “very much regret” her decision to step down.

Ritter has been with the MCH Group for 26 years and has been heading the Baselworld watch and jewelry trade show for 15 of those. She said in the release announcing her departure, “It’s time for me to start something new and take on new challenges.”

Ritter oversaw the growth of Baselworld, which transformed from primarily being a showcase for Swiss watches into a major international watch and jewelry show that included almost every major luxury brand. It became “sexier and more glamorous,” as one jewelry designer put it.

As the show’s profile rose, however, so did prices, and exhibitors large and small—among them Stephen Webster, Mikimoto, Shinola, Marco Bicego and Movado Group—left.

The 2018 edition of the watch and jewelry trade show was half of the size of 2017 and was shorter by two days. An article by veteran watch reporter Joe Thompson published after the show questioned if there would even be a Baselworld in 2020.

2018 Michel Loris MelikoffMichel Loris-Melikoff
Ritter will remain with MCH Group until July 1, when Michel Loris-Melikoff will take over as managing director of Baselworld.

An attorney who started his career in private banking, Loris-Melikoff joined the MCH Group three years ago as director of its operations in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He has been working in the trade show and events industry for a total of 20 years, starting as the president of the Zurich Street Parade and running St. Jakobshalle in Basel before being hired by MCH.

There will be changes under Loris-Melikoff’s leadership for the jewelry, precious gemstone and watch sectors of the watch and jewelry trade show, and in the catering, hospitality and events that surround it in the Swiss city of Basel, MCH Group said.

No further details on the changes—including any changes in price—are available at this time as they are still being developed and discussed, a spokesman for Baselworld said Friday.

Loris-Melikoff said they will be expanding the Baselworld team, and the show’s newspaper, the “Baselworld Daily News,” will be returning in print form in 2019.

The 2019 version of Baselworld is scheduled for March 21 to 26.

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