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(Corrects name of company's founder in second to last paragraph)
MILAN, March 30 (Reuters) - Nutella-maker Ferrero said on Thursday it would appoint its first chief executive from outside its founding family, as it strives to become more competitive and grow faster abroad.
From September, the company's head of central and eastern Europe, Lapo Civiletti, will replace Giovanni Ferrero as CEO.
The decision marks another shift in strategy for the Italian confectioner, which started making small acquisitions in recent years after Giovanni Ferrero became the company's sole CEO in 2011 following the death of his brother. Before then, the group had mostly relied on internal growth.
The only surviving scion of the Ferrero family will become executive chairman and be responsible for the group's long-term strategy.
Italian family-owned businesses are often criticised for their reluctance to cede control to external managers or bring in other investors.
Ferrero reported earlier this week an 8.5 percent rise in sales to 10.3 billion euros ($11 billion) for the 12 months through August.
The confectioner was founded in 1946 in northwest Italy by Pietro Ferrero and grew under his son Michele, who died two years ago. It now sells products including Ferrero Rocher pralines in 170 countries around the world.
Last year, it bought Belgium-based biscuits maker Delacre and earlier this month took control of U.S.-based chocolatier Fannie May.
$1 = 0.9327 euros Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Mark Potter