The 2019 edition of the Baselworld Watch & Jewellery Show is set to begin Thursday, showcasing more than 500 exhibitors but missing key players like Swatch Group. The Swiss watch giant announced in July that it was pulling out of the 2019 edition of the show, and then confirmed this week that it doesn’t have plans to ever return.
Biel/Bienne, Switzerland—Swatch Group will not be returning to Baselworld any time soon.

CEO Nick Hayek made that clear at a press conference held last week in Switzerland ahead of the company’s annual report, and a Swatch Group spokesperson confirmed the company’s permanent pullout to National Jeweler via email Tuesday.

“There’s no need for it anymore,” Hayek said of the trade show in an interview with Bloomberg. “The world has changed.”

The confirmation is a blow to Baselworld, which is struggling to remain relevant in the digital age, and comes just as the 2019 edition of the show is set to kick off in Switzerland.

Show organizers did not respond to National Jeweler’s request for comment on Hayek’s announcement but said there will be a press conference held Wednesday at Baselword.

Swatch Group also manufactures movements powering many competitors’ watches, but not for long.

The company will no longer supply parts to LVMH Moёt Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Richemont brands once their contracts expire at the end of the year, the company spokesperson confirmed to National Jeweler.

LVMH’s watch brands are TAG Heuer, Hublot, Bulgari and Zenith while Richemont owns a slew of high-end watch brands, including A. Lange & Sohne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, and Van Cleef & Arpels.

Neither LVMH or Richemont responded to National Jeweler’s request for comment on the decision.

The announcements about Baselworld and watch parts came ahead of Swatch Group’s release of its full-year financials for 2018.

The company posted strong results in its annual report, with its prestige and luxury range leading the charge.

Sales rose around 6 percent to 8.48 billion Swiss francs ($8.49 billion) compared with 7.98 billion Swiss francs ($7.99 billion) in 2017.

Sales from its watches and jewelry segment, which includes brands like Tissot and Longines, rose about 11 percent, contributing 8.21 billion francs ($8.22 billion) to the total, compared with sales of 7.73 billion ($7.74 billion) francs a year ago.

Annual net income totaled 867 million francs ($868.28 million), a nearly 15 percent jump compared with 755 million francs ($756.12 million) in 2017.

Swatch Group USA saw double-digit sales growth and market share gains in every segment, according to the annual report.

The strongest sales growth stemmed from the prestige and luxury range, specifically Blancpain, Omega and Longines.

The highlighted brands increased their visibility through events and sponsorships throughout the year.

Blancpain touted its Fifty Fathoms Collection, both a tribute to the marine world and a call for ocean preservation, through lectures and a traveling exhibition.

Omega showcased its watches during sporting events, including the PyeongChang Games and the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The brand was also as an official patron and watch of the PGA Championship.

Longines served as the official timekeeper and watch of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, presenting an exhibition on the history of the brand in the United States.

Sales from Swatch Group’s electronics segments, which includes batteries and crystal for watch cases, rose about 2 percent to 273 million francs ($273.4 million) compared with 267 million francs ($267.4 million) the previous year.

Looking to the year ahead, Swatch Group is forecasting “healthy growth”, specifically in Japan and the U.S., and expects to resolve the production problems that led to delivery delays for Omega and Longines.

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