PARIS — Sylvie Ritter has stepped down as managing director of Baselworld after 15 years at the helm, in the latest shakeup at the world’s leading watch and jewelry fair. MCH Group, which organizes the annual event, said it had named Michel Loris-Melikoff to succeed her, effective July 1.
“After 26 years with the MCH Group — 15 of which were as managing director of Baselworld — it’s time for me to start something new and take on new challenges,” Ritter said in a statement.
While the executive won plaudits for overseeing a period of strong expansion of the fair, the most recent edition was marked by upheaval, with the number of exhibitors falling by half to 650 as brands opted for new marketing strategies to deal with competition from the Apple watch and the rising importance of e-commerce.
Tissot chief executive officer François Thiébaud, president of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, said she would be deeply missed. “Sylvie Ritter has made her mark on Baselworld for decades and has been the most important personal contact for the exhibitors at Baselworld,” he said.
Loris-Melikoff, who joined the MCH Group three years ago, promised to introduce a series of innovations next year. “We will be expanding the Baselworld team and further developing the event to continue along the path of quality enhancement and to meet the challenges of the future,” he said.
Though he did not provide details, Loris-Melikoff said one initiative was geared at the jewelry segments, while new concepts are also being worked out for the watch and precious stone sectors. Organizers plan to revamp Baselworld’s catering, hospitality and events, as well.