KEY POINTS

  • Giovanni Ferrero is the executive chairman of Ferrero Group
  • He has an estimated net worth of $25 billion
  • The Ferrero Group made $12.6 billion revenues in 2019

Giovanni Ferrero is the richest man in Italy with $25.4 billion net worth. Here is how he continued building an empire out of confectionery and chocolate spread.

Ferrero’s family controls the Ferrero Group, which is responsible for making Nutella and Ferrero chocolates. He used to run the company with his brother Pietro Ferrero as co-CEO until the latter’s untimely passing in 2011. On the other hand, his father Michele Ferrero died in 2015, putting the responsibility of the company in Giovanni’s hands.

The 55-year-old billionaire had different plans from his late father. Michele Ferrero believed that it is better to build in-house brands but when his Giovanni took over, the latter began acquiring business assets. In 2018, he expanded Ferrero Group’s folio to include Nestlé's U.S. candy arm in a deal worth $2.8 billion. He was also responsible for getting the Thorntons for $170 million.

According to Bloomberg, aside from Nutella and Ferrero chocolates, the company produces Tic-Tac, Kinder chocolates, Keebler, Famous Amos, Little Brownie Bakers cookies, Butterfinger and BabyRuth, among others, and distributes them in 170 countries. This makes the Ferrero Group the second largest chocolate maker in the world.

Aside from acquiring products outside the company, Giovanni hired a CEO, Lapo Civiletti, who is not a family member. He remains the executive chairman of Ferrero and is more focused on corporate strategy. Per Business Insider, in 2019, the Belgium-based billionaire made $9.63 billion, which pushed his personal net worth up. The outlet added that his stake in the company is worth at least $23 billion.

Aside from managing a chocolate factory, Giovanni busies himself by writing books. So far, he has penned eight novels that feature African themes. His latest work "Il cacciatore di luce" was released in 2016. 

On the personal side, he is married to European Commission official Paola Rossi, but the family is known to be ultra-secretive. Not many are known how the company operates and its leaders maintain safe distance from the media. The Ferrero Group only allowed a tour of their factory in Italy once in its entire history and granted an interview with American media in 2018. Experts claim that the company is safeguarding its secrets against "industrial espionage."

If the current sales of chocolates under the Ferrero Group were to be considered, then the plan seems effective. Reports stated that the company made $12.6 billion revenues in 2019.