Cartier chief concerned about widening inequality, afraid of class war

Cartier chief concerned about widening inequality, afraid of class war

10 June 2015, 16:44
Anton Voropaev

"It's really what keeps me awake at night ... How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hated and the social warfare? Because the people with money will not wish to show it," Johann Rupert, chairman of Cartier owner Richemont said at a Financial Times conference in Monaco.

He is afraid that robots would "put hundreds of millions of people out of work," which would broaden the gap between rich and poor and stoke social turmoils.

While the audience seemed stunned, he kept on with dystopian warnings, saying that it is not possible to have 0.1% of 0.1% of rich individuals taking all the spoils.

"And folks, those are our clients. But it's unfair and it is not sustainable," he said. "So I don't know what new social pact we'll have, but we'd better find one."

Rupert has been working in the luxury retail industry since 1976. According to Bloomberg, he and his family are estimated to own about $7 billion, and are among the 20 biggest shareholders in Richemont, Switzerland-based group which holds a dozen of luxury brands, including Montblanc, Chloe, Net-a-Porter and Van Cleef & Arpels.

Rupert said he had been thinking about these problems after reading about the rise of machines in the workplace and what professions machines can kill.

"We are in for a huge change in society. Get used to it, and be prepared," he said. "Hopefully we will survive it, because we're planning for it."

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