The Hershey Co. announced that John P. Bilbrey, executive vice president, chief operating officer, has been named interim president and chief executive officer. Bilbrey replaces David J. West, president and chief executive officer, who has informed the board of directors that he is leaving Hershey to accept a position at another company.
"We're pleased that J.P. has accepted this position," said James E. Nevels, chairman of the board of directors in a prepared statement. "He has worked closely with the board for several years and has been involved in all aspects of the company's strategy and operations. The board has seen firsthand his leadership and expertise and unanimously made this appointment. We will work quickly to name a permanent chief executive officer to ensure the continuation of this orderly transition.
"Business fundamentals are solid and management will continue to execute against the strategy outlined at the CAGNY conference in February. We expect that Hershey will continue its disciplined approach to global expansion while achieving its long-term target of net sales and adjusted earnings per share growth of 3 to 5 percent and 6 to 8 percent, respectively, with the goal of increasing value for all stockholders. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Dave for his service and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
"I also want to take this opportunity to thank Hershey's more than 13,000 employees for their continued commitment to winning in the marketplace. J.P. and our unparalleled team enjoy the full confidence of the board of directors as we work, as One Hershey, to deliver growth in the U.S. and around the world."
"Hershey got off to a strong start in 2011, and we will continue to focus on driving growth in the United States and building our presence in key markets in Asia and Latin America as we take Hershey to the next level," said Bilbrey. "We have an outstanding team in place, and I'm very optimistic about our future as we build a truly global company. We will continue to invest in our brands and capabilities as we leverage our intellectual capital and expand our proprietary insights driven performance initiative."
"After 10 years with the company, it's time to take on the next challenge," West said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve with the great people of The Hershey Co., and I'm very confident in their ability to deliver in the future. J.P. has been instrumental to our success and has been a great partner over the years. He is uniquely qualified to lead The Hershey Co. as it builds on its U.S. leadership position and expands globally."
Bilbrey has more than 30 years of global consumer packaged goods experience. He was named Hershey's chief operating officer in 2010 with responsibility for day-to-day global operations and commercial activities, leading the company's supply chain as well as geographic regions, including the U.S.A., the Americas and Asia. From December 2007 to November 2010, he was senior vice president, president, Hershey North America. Bilbrey played a key leadership role in the company's turnaround as well as in the creation and implementation of the company's confectionery demand landscape and establishment of Hershey's presence in markets around the world.
Bilbrey joined Hershey in 2003 as senior vice president, President Hershey International. Before joining Hershey, Bilbrey held executive positions at Mission Foods and Danone Waters of North America, Inc., a division of Groupe Danone, Paris, France. He was responsible for all operations of Groupe Danone's North American water division. Additionally, he spent 22 years at The Procter & Gamble Co. where he served in positions of increasing responsibility in both the U.S. domestic business as well as numerous international assignments. He has lived abroad and worked in more than 50 countries in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Asia.