René Kamm, CEO of Switzerland’s MCH Group, parent company of the Baselworld watch and jewelry show, resigned today, the group announced.
The resignation is a direct result of the Swatch Group’s bombshell announcement on July 29 that it would not participate in the 2019 show, which will be held in March. The Swatch Group is the world’s largest watch company and Baselworld’s biggest exhibitor, with 18 brands at the show.
In announcing his decision, Swatch Group Chairman Nick Hayek issued a blistering critique of Baselworld’s management, accusing it of being arrogant, snobby, indifferent to the concerns of exhibitors, and resistant to change. Check out our full report for all the details.
Between the 2016 and 2018 shows, the show lost 850 exhibitors and removed Baselworld managing director Sylvie Ritter and sales director Martin Fergusson after a turbulent 2018 show in March. Ritter reported directly to Kamm.
In a press release, MCH said its supervisory board and Kamm agreed “that the time has come for a change in the operational leadership of MCH Group.” Kamm joined MCH in 1999 as head of Baselworld, and has been group CEO since 2003.
The statement cited the Swatch Group’s decision to withdraw from the show, “a decision MCH Group deeply regrets,” it said. “Although it does not generally question the continuation of the Baselworld trade fair, the withdrawal of this important exhibitor has led to questions concerning the consequences for MCH Group results.” The Group said that the “effect on the results for 2019 are as yet inestimable.”
MCH did not announce a successor to Kamm. MCH Chairman Ulrich Vischer will head the group until the group appoints a new CEO.
We will continue to keep you updated as this story develops. It seems far from over.