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100 Years of the MCH Group: Welcome to our anniversary year

Published on 1/3/2016 by Christoph Spangenberg

15 July 1916 was a day which brought decisive changes for Switzerland's trade fair industry. This was the day on which the government of the Canton of Basel-Stadt agreed to a samples fair being staged in Basel.  And it was out of this first fair that the current internationally operating MCH Group developed. Success that has been built on a foundation stone laid out of pure necessity during the first world war.

MCH Group 1. Schweizer Mustermesse, Basel 1917

The first Swiss Sample Fair in 1917 at Stadtcasino Basel. (Photo: Staatsarchiv Basel Stadt/Privatarchiv MCH Group)

A big cheese, together with chocolate, knives and watches, cigars and toys. The leaflet for the first Swiss Sample Fair in April 2017 shows what awaited the visitors: Swiss products from virtually all the different sectors of industry. The idea of the Sample Fair was born out of need. The show was intended to promote the domestic economy during the First World War.

More than 300,000 visitors at the first Sample Fair

From 15 to 29 April 1917, less than a year after the political decision had been taken, the plans became reality: the first Swiss Sample Fair opened in Basel's municipal casino and in a hall at the then Badischer Bahnhof (German Railway Station), which is where Messe Basel and the MCH Group are still located today. The première exceeded all expectations. More than 300,000 visitors poured into the halls, and 831 companies from all the different cantons exhibited their products and were able to conclude business deals worth 20 to 25 million francs.

Over the past 100 years, the Swiss Sample Fair has developed into an international company group with locations in Basel, Lausanne and Zurich, Asia and USA. The traditional exhibition business is still the most important business division. Shows such as Art Basel and the Baselworld watch and jewellery show are global leaders in their fields. In keeping with the economic dynamics, however, services in the fields of event management and event technology, stand construction, sponsoring and consultancy are also taking on increasing importance.

2016: A threefold anniversary year

Despite all the changes that have occurred: the Sample Fair still exists. Defying wars and economic crises, it has changed along with society and the economic climate. In April 2016, it is being staged for the 100th time. Since 1984, it has been called Muba, the abbreviation for Mustermesse Basel (Basel Sample Fair).

2016 is thus a threefold anniversary year: 100 years of the Sample Fair, 100 years of the modern trade fair industry in Switzerland and 100 years of the MCH Group.

>>> A large number of photos, eminent persons and a regular influx of new stories from our 100-year company history on

Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015.
Christoph Spangenberg

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