By Brecken Branstrator
Pictured here is the show floor at Baselworld 2019. MCH Group had to cancel this year’s show because of the coronavirus and, now, has announced it’s canceling the 2021 show as well. (Photo of courtesy of Baselworld)
Basel, Switzerland—MCH Group, organizer of the Baselworld watch and jewelry trade show, announced two developments concerning the 2020 and 2021 shows.

In a statement sent out today, MCH Group said it has cancelled the 2021 show scheduled for Jan. 28 to Feb. 2.

Baselworld Managing Director Michel Loris-Melikoff said beyond 2021, MCH Group is looking into “new platforms” for Baselworld.

“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,” he said.

In its announcement, MCH Group also said it worked with the show’s Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee and the Comité Consultatif to come to an agreement regarding refunds for the cancelled 2020 show, though it did not provide specifics on how much money it would be giving back.

Baselworld’s original refund policy caused an uproar among exhibitors.

Following the 2020 event’s cancellation, MCH Group gave them two “take-it-or-leave it” options, as one exhibitor described them.

The first was for Baselworld to take 85 percent of an exhibitor’s booth fees for 2020 and apply them to 2021, with the remaining 15 percent going to MCH to offset the costs the company incurred for the 2020 show.

With the second, exhibitors were offered a 30 percent cash refund. Of the remaining 70 percent, 40 percent of that was to be carried forward to 2021 while 30 percent would’ve remained with MCH for incurred costs.

Baselworld offered no 100 percent refund option for exhibitors unable to attend the 2021 show, which, many argued, conflicted with other trade shows.

Following the uproar over the refund policy and the date change, Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chanel, and Chopard announced they were cutting ties with the show and starting their own watch event.

The departures of LVMH-owned watch brands TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith followed shortly thereafter.

Though MCH Group’s announcement didn’t give specifics on the new refund policy, Rolex’s Hubert J. du Plessix, president of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, said the brand—along with Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chanel, Chopard, Hublot, Zenith and TAG Heuer—agreed to a lower refund “so that the other exhibitors can benefit from better conditions.”

Bernd Stadlwieser, CEO of the MCH Group, said in the statement: “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.”

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