The Nutella Billionaire: How Giovanni Ferrero Became The Richest Italian

Giovanni Ferrero took over the family business after his brother Pietro’s demise in 2011. He is not only the reason behind the rising success of the chocolate and confectionary brand called Ferrero Spa but is also responsible for the successes of famous food brands like Nutella and Kinder. Today, his business skills have yielded him such immense wealth that he has attained the ‘richest’ Italian title.

Here is a chronological account of how Giovanni Ferrero became the ‘Nutella Billionaire’ in only a matter of a few years.

Giovanni’s Early Life

Giovanni Ferrero was born in Farigliano, Italy, on 2nd April 1964. He did not have to start the chocolate and confectionery business, which was already so famous at that time. He was born into a family that was already running an expert-level business in the field. Giovanni was born to Maria Franca Fissolo and Michele Ferrero, who owned a multinational company named after the Ferrero family.

His parents were aware that he and his brother would be capable of handling the business when they came of age, but they wanted to train them anyway. So, Giovanni was sent to Brussels at a young age to pursue quality education from a Belgian boarding school. However, his parents decided that Giovanni would be sent to the US to specialize in marketing for higher education. He graduated from the Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania.

The Entry Of The Ferrero Brothers In The Family Business

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The business was finally handed over to Giovanni and his brother Pietro by their father, Papa Ferrero, in 1997. The brothers devised a brilliant method to expand the business and came up with newer divisions under the Ferrero label. They also practiced aggressive marketing strategies to expand the business overseas.

Forming several new brands meant that they could diversify as much as they wanted, and the reach of Ferrero as an umbrella company would also expand exponentially. The results of this strategy came in fast and steady, and Ferrero became a prevalent name in many countries in Europe, Asia, South America, & Australia.

Giovanni Ferrero Taking The Wheel

Ever since the beginning of their prospering business, Giovanni Ferrero and his brother Pietro had collectively reaped the profits. Despite Pietro being the elder one, both he and Giovanni shared the title of the CEO of the company. While the older brother was in charge of the technical aspect of the business, like tracking the logistics and the sales of products, Giovanni, on the other hand, was the creative mind behind it all.

However, misfortune struck in 2011 when Pietro met with a bicycle accident and lost his life abruptly, as stated by Success Story. The official reports claimed it to be a heart attack that he suffered while cycling in South Africa. As a result, Giovani was required to step up and assume his role as the sole head of the company. Meanwhile, his father, Michel Ferrero, took over the chair of the executive chairman.

Giovanni lost his father four years after his brother’s demise. Due to this, he had to take up the charge of the executive chairman as well. He was relieved of some of the business stress in 2017 when he appointed Lapo Civiletti to become the CEO of Ferrero. From the raging profits ever since Giovanni became a lone wolf, it can be said that they were the effect of his revolutionary methods like appointing a competent person outside of the family and acquiring important businesses like Thorntons in 2015 for $170 million, Butterfinger and BabyRuth maker Nestlé’s US candy business in 2018 for $2.8 billion, and also the recent acquisition of Kellogg’s cookie businesses in 2019.

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The Birth Of Nutella

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Giovanni Ferrero might be referred to as the ‘Nutella’ billionaire from Italy, but Pietro too had a role in the formation of this subdivision under Ferrero. It was Pietro who got the brand up and running in 1946 by introducing a chocolate shop in Alba, Italy. The special attraction of this chocolate store was a product called ‘Supercrema’, which was a hazelnut spread that emerged from a wartime recipe when food shortage was a common phenomenon.

Supercrema was officially the precursor to what is known as Nutella today. Ferrero has also expanded over the years to improvise and create innovative and high-selling brands like Tic Tac mints, Kinder chocolates, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Crunch candy bars, Keebler, Famous Amos, and Little Brownie Bakers cookies. Interestingly, the famous TicTac was the first job that the Ferrero family had landed – at the Belgian company called Tic Tac. Among the favorite chocolate products by the Ferrero family is also the Ferrero Rocher chocolate which has been a favorite delicacy for decades.

The Nutella billionaire is currently worth over $28 billion, which is the highest in Italy and one of the highest in the world. However, the figures fall into place when considering that Ferrero has about 20 best-selling candy brands under its wing and that by 2015, Giovanni had grown the company to a valuation of about $11 billion in net value. Another reason for the young Ferrero’s hefty net worth is also because he inherited a considerable chunk from his family fortune.

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Source: Celebrity Net Worth, Success Story, VJ, Business Insider

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