The Hershey Co. has appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer John P. Bilbrey as interim chief executive officer to replace David West, who is leaving the company to become CEO at Del Monte Foods Co.

Hershey, John P. Bilbrey, David West, Del Monte, chief executive officer, CEO James Nevels, Neil Harrison, chocolate, food industry, consumer packaged goods, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, consumer products company, Nabisco, Kraft Foods

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Hershey names interim chief as CEO exits to head Del Monte

May 18th, 2011

HERSHEY, Pa. – The Hershey Co. has appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer John P. Bilbrey as interim chief executive officer to replace David West, who is leaving the company to become CEO at Del Monte Foods Co.

In a statement released Wednesday, Hershey chairman James Nevels said, "We will work quickly to name a permanent chief executive officer to ensure the continuation of this orderly transition."

Bilbrey has more than 30 years of global consumer packaged goods experience, according to Hershey. He was named COO in 2010, with responsibility for day-to-day global operations and commercial activities at the chocolate and candy giant, and from December 2007 to November 2010 served as senior vice president of The Hershey Co. and president of Hershey North America.

"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," Bilbrey stated. "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."

The company noted that Bilbrey played a key role its turnaround as well as in the creation and implementation of its confectionery demand landscape and establishment of Hershey's presence in markets worldwide. He joined Hershey in 2003 as company senior vice president and president of Hershey International. Before joining Hershey, Bilbrey held executive positions at Mission Foods and Danone Waters of North America Inc. and spent 22 years at Procter & Gamble Co.

"We're pleased that J.P. has accepted this position," Nevels commented. "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."

Meanwhile, Del Monte said Wednesday that West is slated to join its board of directors in June and to take the helm as CEO on Aug. 15.

West will take over for interim CEO Neil Harrison, who will remain on the board. Harrison was appointed as interim CEO after Del Monte was acquired by an investor group led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Capital in a deal completed in March.

"I'm honored to join Del Monte at such an exciting time," stated West, who was Hershey's CEO since 2007. "I have admired Del Monte's transformation into a multibillion 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."

West has spent nearly 25 years in the food industry. Prior to his CEO role at Hershey, he held various leadership positions at the company, including COO, chief financial officer, chief customer officer and senior vice president of strategy and business development.

Before joining Hershey, West served as senior vice president and CFO at Nabisco Biscuit and Snacks Group and was responsible for leading the financial function of Kraft Foods' biscuits, confections and snacks businesses. He joined Nabisco in 1987.

Commenting on his departure from Hershey, West said in a statement, "After 10 years with the company, it's time to take on the next challenge. 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."