Ferrero Rocher tycoon dies in cycling accident

Click to follow

Pietro Fferrero, a chief executive of the family-run chocolate firm behind the famous Ferrero Rocher brand, has died at the age of 47 after a bicycle accident.

The grandson of Ferrero's founder and son of Italy's richest man, he was confirmed by a company spokesman to have died yesterday whilst on a business trip in South Africa. It was later confirmed that he had fallen off his bike in Cape Town, though it was not clear what caused the fall.

As joint head of the manufacturer with his younger brother Giovanni, Mr Ferrero oversaw a business whose production of other market-leading brands such as Tic-Tacs, Nutella and Kinder gave it a €6.6bn turnover last year.

The company was set up in the 1942 by his grandfather, also named Pietro Ferrero. As a pastry chef in Piedmont, north-western Italy, he created a secret recipe for a chocolate spread that used hazelnuts rather than exclusively cocoa for flavouring, helping to avoid the problems caused by wartime food shortages as well as cutting costs.

This success was expanded to a global scale by the founder's son, Michele Ferrero. He in turn handed the company's day-to-day running over to his two sons some years ago, but he remains the company's chairman and was in South Africa with Mr Ferrero when his death occurred.

The company now has more than 20,000 employees across the world and remains owned entirely by the family, which is the wealthiest in Italy according to Forbes magazine.

Mr Ferrero began working for the company in Germany in 1985, before taking charge of the European arm in 1992. Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini described him as a "businessman of exceptional talent, gifted with strategic vision and deep sensibility".

He was married with three children.