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Richemont chief to take a breather in Antarctica

It might just be the most high-end gap year ever. Johann Rupert, the chairman and founder of the world's second-largest luxury company, Richemont, has paused the clock on a 25-year career running the group behind Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre watches.

The South African-born Mr Rupert, who will be 63 next month, is taking a year off from Richemont, saying he may travel to Antarctica, and has 50 books he'd like to read. "There are things I want to see and want to do," he said, adding: "After 25 years, I think I have the right to just take a break."

Mr Rupert, who founded the company in 1988 and owns a majority stake, expanded the Swiss-based business to own a raft of high-end jewellery, clothing and accessories brands including Montblanc, Alfred Dunhill, Chloé and the website Net-a-Porter. The sabbatical will start in September after the company's annual meeting.

Mr Rupert decided to step down as chief executive last November. Joint chief executives Richard Lepeu and Bernard Fornas have shared the job since April, and the deputy chairman, Yves-André Istel, will chair meetings in Mr Rupert's absence.

Richemont also reported a 30 per cent rise in profits for the year to April to €2.01bn (£1.7bn) on sales up 14 per cent to €10.15bn.