Johann Rupert is a South African businessman. He is the chairman of the Swiss luxury goods firm, Richemont and South African based firm, Remgro.
He has been at the helm of 12 different companies and presently occupies the position of Chairman at Remgro Ltd, Chairman of Reinet Investments Manager SA, and Executive Chairman of Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA, to mention a few.
Also, Mr Rupert is on the board of Rembrandt Trust Pty Ltd, Anton Rupert Trust and Rupert Beleggings Pty Ltd.
In 2019, he was ranked the second wealthiest person in South Africa on Forbes Rich List. Meanwhile, his fortune was reported to have declined from US$7.3 billion to $5.9 billion. He owns a 7% stake in a diversified investment firm, Remgro as well as 25% of Reinet, an investment holding co. based in Luxembourg.
Johann Rupert Background
Johann was born on 1 June, 1950 to Anton Rupert, a business tycoon and Huberte Rupert. He is the eldest son of the family. He grew up in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Johann began his academic pursuit at Paul Roos Gymnasium. He proceeded to the University of Stellenbosch where he studied Economics and Company Law. But, he dropped out of the university to pursue a career in business. Interestingly, the University of Stellenbosch awarded him an honorary doctorate in Economics.
Not only that, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University awarded him an honorary doctorate in Commerce.
Johann Rupert Career
Rupert began his business career in New York City. He worked for Chase Manhattan for two years and Lazard Freres for three years. Thereafter, in 1979, he returned to South Africa and founded Rand Merchant Bank (RMB).
In 1984, RMB was merged with Rand Consolidated Investments to form RMB Holdings. He left RMB to join his father’s company, the Rembrandt Group.
In 1988, he founded Compagnie Financiere Richemont and was appointed Non-Executive Director of Rothmans International Plc. Afterward, Johann was appointed as Vice Chairman of the Rembrandt Group in 1989. In 1990, he formed Richemont subsidiary, Vendome Luxury Group SA.
He was appointed Chairman, Rembrandt Group Limited in 1991. In 1997, he was appointed Non-Executive Chairman of Gold Fields South Africa Ltd. Following that, in 2000, Rupert restructured Rembrandt Group Limited and formed Remgro Limited and VenFin Limited.
Thereafter, he was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive of Compagnie Financiere Richemont S.A. In 2009, he was appointed “Officer” of the French “Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur” by the President of the French Republic. He was appointed Chancellor of Stellenbosch University in 2009.
Johann Rupert oversees several portfolio of luxury brands. Some of which includes fashion labels Azzedine Alaia, Chloe, and Dunhill, alongside established jewellery and watch brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Vacheron Constantin and Cartier.
In 2010, Richemont Group acquired 100 percent of the shareholding in luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter, in a deal valuing the business at over $500 million.
Johann Rupert Other Interests
Aside from being a successful businessman, Johann is a former cricketer. In 1990, he founded the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Globally, Laureus funds 65 projects.
The goal of this funding is to use sport to tackle social issues with a central focus on underprivileged children. Also, he co-founded the Sports Science Institute with his friends Morne du Plessis and Tim Noakes.
Aside that, Rupert also developed Leopard Creek Golf Club in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Leopard Creek Golf Club is one of South Africa’s top three golf courses and was rated number 25 outside the United States of America (Golf Digest). Interestingly, Rupert has played in the annual Gary Player
Invitational golf tournament to assist Gary Player, his friend raise funds for various children’s charities.
Johann serves as the Chairman of the South African Golf Development Board. In 2007, Rupert was elected into South African Sports Hall of Fame. Then, in 2009, he was inducted into South African Golf Hall of Fame.
More About Johann Rupert
In 2001, Johann lost his younger brother Anthonij in a car accident. After his demise, he took over the L’Ormarins wine estate. Meanhile, Anthonij was the head of Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons. Rupert therefore began a project to enhance the farm in memory of his late brother.
In addition, he was a council member of the South Africa Foundation as well as the trustee of the Southern African Nature Foundation, The Institute of Directors in Southern Africa, Business South Africa and Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns and Managing Trustee and member of the investment committee, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Rupert served on the Daimler Chrysler International Advisory Board.
More so, just like his father, Anton, Johann is equally a conservationist. Aside conserving about 25,000 hectares in the Graaff Reinet area, he is also Chairman of the Peace Parks Foundation
Awards And Recognitions
- Businessman of the year, Sunday Times, 1988
- Business Leader of the year, Die Burger Newspaper, 1990
- Business Leader of the year, Cape Town Chamber of Commerce, 1990
- Named one of 200 “Global Leaders of Tomorrow”, World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, 1992
- M.S Louw Award from the A.H.I. (Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut), 1993
- Awarded the Free Market Award by The Free Market Foundation of South Africa, 1999
- Voted “Most Influential Business Leader” in South Africa by CEOs of top 100 Listed Companies, 2000
- Awarded Honorary Doctorate in Economics by the University of Stellenbosch, 2004
- Selected as the 2009 International Wine Entrepreneur of the Year at the Meininger “Excellence in Wine and Spirit” awards ceremony in Dusselorf, Germany
- Voted South Africa’s Business Leader of the Year by the CEOs of the Top 100 Companies for the third time, 2008
- Made Honorary Vice President of the European Golf Tour, 2010
- Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of St Andrews, Scotland, 2010
Johann Rupert Networth
As at April 2019, he and his family were estimated to be worth $5.9billion by Forbes.
Johann Rupert Quotes
“Trends carry on forever, until they stop. I want to be around after things come to a standstill. As a result, I tend to be pretty conservative.”
“It is not just disposable income but whether people feel good about their immediate future that drives sales. It is this feel-good factor that drives the purchases more and more than mere economic wealth.”
“When I tell my colleagues that I remember 1969, 1974 and 1987, their eyes glaze over, but I’m afraid I do remember them, and I therefore err on the side of caution.”
“I don’t want to start producing dressing gowns and cuff links with the Purdey name stamped on them. Making Purdey the leading gunmaker is our priority. Once we have succeeded in doing that, then we might look at some accessories, but it is a long haul.”
“I just want to be master of my own time. It is ironic that someone in the watch business should not be in control of his time.”
“If everyone can be as good as Madiba or Mother Theresa it could work. But people are not that nice. People act in their self interest.”
“If you make a mistake as an employee, admit it to your superior, because then you own the problem together.”
“Don’t make the same mistake twice.”
Entrepreneurial Lessons From Johann Rupert
1. Be Fearless
On several occasions, Johann Rupert has been described as a fearless businessman. He is a risk taker that has established different kinds of businesses. He has interest in mining, winemaking, energy, telecoms industry and luxury goods among others.
A businessman has to be fearless and willing to take calculated risks. Without taking a risk, you may never know what you are missing or what will work.
2. Go Global
Johann is a global mover. His businesses are scattered all over the world. Johann has been honored not only in his country but in several countries including, Switzerland and Germany.
Once you start a business, never resolve to be a local champion. Be prepared to go global and make your products and services of international standards.
Although, Mr Rupert is best known for trading luxury goods, he also invested in other industries. Some of which include, mining, banking, food, Industrial gases, many others.
Diversification helps a business owner earn from more than one industry. The advice, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is still valid until now.
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