In an attempt to keep the fashion jewellery trade fair, EuroBijoux & Accessories, in Menorca, the Island Council has offered to put on planes to bring exhibitors and buyers to Maó from Milan, Paris and Madrid. Direct flights would operate from the day before the fair's inauguration, to allow exhibitors time to set up their stands, until the day after the closing ceremony, giving time for the stands to be dismantled. In addition there would be an early morning and an afternoon flight on each of the two intervening days of the fair and the number of connections and routes could be increased if necessary.
This was the offer put to Matthias Roters, President of SEBIME (the fashion jewellery manufacturers' association) for consideration following the announcement that this year the EuroBijoux trade fair would be moved from the Maó industrial estate to Palma, a decision backed by the majority of the manufacturers at a meeting held last Wednesday. The change of venue is an attempt to attract more foreign exhibitors and buyers and reverse the trend of ever decreasing numbers which has seen the 209 stands at the 1996 fair dwindle to just 87 last year. Palma's volume of flights and choice of destinations, both within Europe and on other continents, is felt to be essential to ensure EuroBijoux's survival and, thereby, that of the industry which employs between 1,000 and 1,200 people directly in the Balearic Islands and another 600 indirectly.
Roters explained that SEBIME's executive committee had fought to keep the trade fair in Maó for the last eight years, in spite of petitions from manufacturers that it be transferred to Madrid or Barcelona to make it more accessible. These two possible venues have now been rejected in favour of Palma, so that at least the international fair will stay in the Balearic Islands.
The Island Council asked SEBIME to have a "day of reflection" before making the final decision on the transfer to Mallorca. To add weight to the appeal for the event to remain on the island, the Island Council called in the President of the Balearic Islands, Francesc Antich, who travelled to Menorca yesterday for a meeting with the manufacturers in the Island Council's headquarters. However, even his intervention failed to sway SEBIME's executive committee from its decision and this year's EuroBijoux & Accessories will be held in Palma in May.
Speaking after the meeting, Antich stated "we would have liked the fair to remain in Menorca, but the priority now is to strengthen the companies and consolidate the sector". In response to questions on why it had not been possible to convince the jewellery manufacturers, the Balearic leader replied that "from a business point of view it is strategic to have a place such as Palma to be able to lead the European sector and have the maximum communication".
Four decades of SEBIME
Originally founded as "Semana de la Bisuteria de Menorca" (Menorcan Fashion Jewellery Week) by a former Mayor of Maó, Rafael Timoner, himself a jewellery manufacturer, the fair was an opportunity to promote the island's products.
The event evolved over the years and officially became a national fair for the fashion jewellers and associated industries in 1976. SEBIME's hard work was rewarded ten years later when the fair moved into the international category, the first being inaugurated in Maó on 20th May 1986.
In addition to organising the fair, SEBIME was also responsible for a complete programme of activities aimed at promoting Spanish fashion jewellery, accessories and components and improving their share of the world market.To further this objective, EuroFashion Bijoux was set up recently, the first European trademark for the industry.