October 2, 2018 / 3:58 PM / 21 days ago

LVMH watch brands to attend Baselworld 2019, changes needed for 2020

ZURICH, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Luxury goods group LVMH's watch brands will be present at the next edition of the Baselworld watch fair in March, the outgoing head of its watch division told CNN Money Switzerland, adding the world's biggest trade show needs to make changes in 2020.

"We already decided that we would attend (in 2019), I decided that before retiring", Jean-Claude Biver who hands over responsibility for LVMH's watch brands TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith to Stephane Bianchi at the end of the month, said in an interview available on CNN's website on Tuesday.

He said the decision to attend had been made together with other Swiss watch brands, such as Rolex and Patek Philippe.

Swatch Group announced this summer it would no longer attend the fair that has been criticised as being too expensive and inefficient and already lost half of its exhibiting brands in 2018.

"We want to take advantage of 2019 to see together with the organisers what Basel 2020 could be. What are our wishes, our constraints (...) If we can manage that together with the fair, there is no reason we wouldn't stay," said Biver who is staying non-executive chairman of the LVMH watch division.

"If we cannot find solutions (...), probably we'll leave," Biver said, adding the fair needed to take place at the beginning of the year instead of March and prices for exhibiting brands, but also for hotel rooms in Basel, needed to come down.

"I agree with Swatch Group that the fair has never adapted to the 21st century, it is true."

The rival Geneva watch fair, dominated by Richemont brands, has so far been seen as benefiting from Baselworld's problems. Last week, however, Geneva also saw independent brands Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille announce their exit from the show from 2020.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz

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