Italy-based confectionery group Ferrero has named Frédéric Thil as the new director general of its French business.

Thil joined Ferrero as commercial director in 2001, rising to marketing director in 2005. He succeeds Marco Capurso at the head of Ferrero France, the company's third-largest business unit with 2007 sales of EUR1bn (US$1.3bn).

Thil is already in post and reports to the third-generation presidents of the Piedmontese business, Pietro and Giovanni.

Ferrero's core brand Nutella was derived from an earlier solid product, Giandujot, developed to stretch scarce chocolate during the austere post-war years with the addition of hazelnuts.

The chance discovery, by second-generation brothers Pietro and Michele, of a block of Giandujot that had melted under the hot sun led to its reformulation as a spread.

It was relaunched in 1964 as Nutella, now a core brand in a portfolio that includes Kinder Surprise and Rocher.