* Q1 EBIT at 255 mln eur vs Rtrs poll avg 245 mln
* Q1 sales at 1.71 bln eur vs Rtrs poll avg 1.71 bln
* Shares seen up 1.6 percent in pre-market trade (Adds details, quote, share indication, new CFO)
FRANKFURT, May 7 (Reuters) - Germany's Beiersdorf on Thursday reported a bigger than expected rise in first-quarter core profit helped by demand for its products in Eastern Europe.
The maker of Nivea skin cream posted first-quarter earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of 255 million euros ($290 million), beating analysts' estimates of 245 million euros.
"After laying some important groundwork in the first quarter, we will pick up momentum over the coming months and consequently continue on our profitable growth path," Chief Executive Stefan Heidenreich said in a statement.
Beiersdorf shares were seen 1.6 percent higher at 0646 GMT against an indication for a 0.6 percent lower German blue-chip index DAX
The German company's consumer division, which accounts for about 80 percent of group sales and includes its skin and hair-care brands, saw a 10 percent growth in Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia and Poland in the three months to end-March. The unit's sales in Western Europe, including its home market Germany declined.
Local rival Henkel, which missed analyst expectations for its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) also reported a strong sales increase in Russia.
Beiersdorf reiterated it expects group sales to grow by 3 to 5 percent in 2015 and it sees its consolidated EBIT margin from operations slightly exceeding the prior-year figure.
The group also appointed Denmark-born Jesper Andersen, 45, as new Finance Chief.
Andersen, who held the same position for Colgate-Palmolive's North America business in the past, will start September 1 and gradually take over from Ulrich Schmidt who will retire end of March next year, Beiersdorf said.
$1 = 0.8804 euros Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Victoria Bryan