Switzerland’s BASELWORLD 2012 opens, exports booming
BASEL, Switzerland, March 8, 2012 – BASELWORLD’s watches and jewellery halls were packed on the show’s first day, a signal of booming luxury watch and jewellery exports, driven by demand from emerging markets.
The main watches hall, showcasing the latest pieces from top brands such as Rolex, Omega and Patek Philippe, was heaving and people had to line up to get a proper view of pieces in the display windows.
The main jewellery halls, featuring big names such as Roberto Coin, Schreiner and Stephen Webster, also experienced hefty footfall as thousands of trade visitors and journalists gathered from around the world.
Jacques Duchene, President of the Exhibitors’ Committee, said the Swiss watch and jewellery export sector was flourishing, due in large part to growing demand in emerging economies, despite a deteriorating world economic picture.
He said demand for Swiss watches was very buoyant in Asia.
“The watch industry has built up a good reputation in all the emerging countries and succeeded in creating demand, especially in the luxury products segment,” he said.
Swiss exports in the sector hit a record high of 19.3 billion francs in 2011, up 19.2 percent year-on-year, Duchene said in a speech to exhibitors and media.
“This respectable sum represents a doubling of our exports every 12 years! The number of pieces exported was just short of 30 million. These figures speak for themselves.”
Ulrike Kielbassa, vice president of Germany-based Schreiner Fine Jewellery, said demand for top-tier Schreiner jewellery was strong and stable in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Schreiner’s latest Fleur collection, based on Flower designs and featuring 18-carat gold and diamonds, was performing well in all of Schreiner’s main markets, she told Jewellery Outlook.
Mehul Choksi, who heads Mumbai-based Gitanjali, said India was a bright spot for jewellery and watches in 2012, and predicted the market would grow by some 15 to 20 percent this year.
BASELWORLD is a vital platform for many jewellery brands to launch new collections.
UK-based Rodney Rayner has introduced his colourful Via Roma collection, made in 18-carat rose gold, with a variety of stones including pink sapphires, white diamonds, and blue topaz, and has developed his Arabesque line, in bold, dome-shaped designs likely to be popular with East European buyers.
“Every centre stone is a unique shape and the faceting on every centre stone is also unique,” he said of the Via Roma pieces.
“They are very unusual and creative pieces.”
Birmingham, UK-based Domino Jewellery presented pieces crafted in Britain, including a classic gemstone jewellery collection.
MODERNISATION OF BASELWORLD
BASELWORLD is undergoing a major 430-million-franc modernisation and will have a different look next year, organisers said.
“The first construction phase to modernise our exhibition site has already been completed,” said Rene Kamm, CEO of MCH Group.
“Between June and December 2011, we turned 2,500 tonnes of steel and 7,300 tonnes of concrete into a building of 160,000 cubic metres.”
“Building work has been stopped from January until the end of March so that the big trade shows, SWISSBAU – which took place in January – and BASELWORLD, could be held in the old building configuration for one last time.”
From April, straight after BASELWORLD 2012, the hectic second construction phase will start with the demolition of the old main entrance and Hall 3, and the completion of the three-storey complex.
“By doing this, we will create one big hall with a length of around 420 metres on the first floor.
“With the new building, we will be able to offer a total gross exhibition area of 141,000 square metres here in Basel.”
Sylvie Ritter, Managing Director of BASELWORLD, said, “The latest modernisation of the exhibition grounds is going to be even further-reaching than anything that has been undertaken in the past.
“All of this will have been completed in time for the opening of BASELWORLD 2013.”
BASELWORLD 2012 runs from March 8-15.