Del Monte Foods Co. has appointed David J. West as its new chief executive officer, effective Aug. 15, 2011. West will also join the company's board of directors in June. West joins Del Monte from The Hershey Co. where he is currently president and CEO. He will replace Neil Harrison, Del Monte's interim-CEO, who will remain on the board of directors. Harrison was appointed as Del Monte's interim CEO after the company was acquired by an investor group led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Capital. The acquisition was completed on March 8, 2011.
West has spent nearly 25 years in the food industry and has been Hershey's CEO since 2007. Prior to his CEO role, he held various leadership positions at Hershey including chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief customer officer and senior vice president of strategy and business development. Earlier in his career, he served as senior vice president and CFO at Nabisco Biscuit and Snacks Group.
During West's tenure as CEO, Hershey accelerated top and bottom-line growth by increasing its investment in its U.S. and international operations, improving the effectiveness of its supply chain and business model, and accelerating its advertising, brand building and distribution programs. Hershey reported strong profits and net sales growth in 2010 and, since year end 2007, total shareholder returns, including dividends, have exceeded 60 percent.
"We're thrilled that an executive of Dave's caliber will be leading Del Monte in the next phase of its development and growth. Dave brings with him an outstanding track record of brand building and investment for growth and we are confident he has the leadership credentials and experience to move the company forward," said Del Monte board members Simon Brown (KKR), Brian Ratzan (Vestar) and David Hooper (Centerview) in a prepared statement.
"I'm honored to join Del Monte at such an exciting time. I have admired Del Monte's transformation into a multi-billion diversified branded pet and consumer products company. I'm looking forward to working with Del Monte's management team to continue the company's tradition of providing high quality products that consumers know and trust, while further accelerating the growth of its well-established portfolio of brands," said West.