Artsy reports cost cutting at Art Basel

Artsy reports cost cutting at Art Basel

The MCH Group, the Swiss fair – the conglomerate that owns the Art Basel fairs, announced significant cost-cutting measures on Friday, stating that it would abandon its two-and-a-half-year-old initiative to acquire regional art fairs around the globe, informed Artsy.

The announcement was made by interim CEO Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, who took over the direction of the live marketing giant in September amidst significant declines in revenue from its once-marquee Baselworld watch and jewellery fair. In an email sent to Artsy, Hoejsgaard said that the changes aim to capitalise on Art Basel's success and to make up for the losses suffered from its watch and jewellery fair holdings.

"Art Basel, with its strong market position, is one of the most important pillars in the MCH Group's portfolio, which is to be strengthened further," he said.

"In its current situation, MCH Group simply does not have the resources required for further expansion of the participation portfolio with regional art fairs."

The MCH Design and Regional Art Fairs initiative, intended to allow MCH to create or buy up events that cater more to one city rather than the international art community, appeared promising when announced in March 2016. The conglomerate acquired a majority stake in India Art Fair in September of the same year and a minority stake in Art Düsseldorf in February 2017. This past July, MCH announced plans to launch Art SG in Singapore.

Now, the group's stakes in India Art Fair and Art Düsseldorf will be sold, and it will no longer support Art SG, which was slated to have its first edition in Singapore in September 2019.

Hoejsgaard stated that these significant cuts are the first step in a comprehensive review of the entire group's initiatives aimed at renewing financial stability.

"Our biggest challenge lies in finding the right balance between the measures required to stabilize the company and the investments which – despite limited resources – we must make in the future."

Formerly a cash cow for MCH, Baselworld has floundered in recent years amidst a shrinking market for luxury watches; a significant number of exhibitors have dropped out of the fair, and losses have mounted for its parent company. As many as 850 of the fair's exhibitors had dropped out over the course of two years, slashing its number of booths by 57 percent. Chatter at the Messeplatz in March suggested that Baselworld could end, following its 2019 edition, according to industry publication Hodinkee.

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