Montres Jaquet Droz SA luxury wristwatches stand in a display case during the opening day of the 2018 Baselworld luxury watch and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland. (Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg)

Swiss Watch Trade Fair Expects to Lose More Than $100 Million

(Bloomberg) -- The organizer of the Baselworld watch trade show said it will probably record a bigger-than-expected loss this year as the exit of the event’s largest exhibitor forces a strategy revamp.

MCH Group AG will need to make adjustments for the value of exhibition halls in Basel, Switzerland, which will lead to an annual loss in the “three-digit millions,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. The shares declined 2.3 percent in early Zurich trading, bringing the decline this year to 42 percent.

Baselworld has come under scrutiny after Swatch Group AG pulled out of the fair, saying trade fairs aren’t adapting themselves enough to an increasingly digital world. Hermes and Ulysse Nardin earlier ditched the show to join a Geneva watch salon, which takes places several months earlier and is more exclusive.

MCH said it’s studying how to streamline the organization and improve capacity utilization of the Basel infrastructure. It also named Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard as new interim chief executive officer to succeed Ulrich Vischer, who remains chairman.

Baselworld plans to promote jewelry more heavily next year as it seeks to satisfy exhibitors, director Michel Loris-Melikoff said in an interview last month. Jewelry brands, which used to be in neighboring building, will be moved into the main hall, one floor above watch brands like Patek Philippe and Rolex. Baselworld will also organize fashion catwalk shows that showcase jewelry three times a day to draw more attention to the segment.

MCH Group also said first-half profit declined 17 percent.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.