Leslie Coopersmith, ceo of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Guylian USA Inc. announced her retirement yesterday after more than 30 years in the confectionery industry. Michael Cobb, who was recently hired as president of Guylian USA, will take on ceo responsibilities.
 
“Michael has an outstanding record in brand-building, revitalizing brands, identifying new growth opportunities, and unlocking profit and share growth potential, so I know I’m leaving the company in excellent hands,” Coopersmith says.
 
Her career with Guylain begain in 1988, when she was tapped to head up the Belgian chocolatier’s import business into the U.S. In 1994, as president of Guylain USA, Coopersmith helped establish the company in the United States. She opened up the u.s. market to cover all classes of trade, which led to the company becoming a major player in the travel retail business. As a result, Guylian’s Seashell chocolates became the No. 1 imported chocolate seashells in America.
 
Coopersmith was promoted to ceo in 2005. Under her leadership, Guylian USA expanded its market for chocolate gifts, as well as self-purchase. In addition to Guylian Seashells, she introduced a range of gift-boxed chocolates – including the new, award-winning Extra Dark Guylian Seashells – and launched a line of No Sugar Added Belgian chocolate bars, renown for offering a true, flavorful Belgian chocolate experience.
 
Coopersmith began her lengthy career in the confectionery business in 1978 at Ward Foods, the then producers of Chunky, Raisinettes and Goobers. Next, she worked for Nabisco Brands, where, in 1987, she became the corporation’s first female vice president of sales. Her love of the specialty end of the confectionery business developed when she joined Droste USA. It was during her tenure there that she met Carl and Dominique Krefting, the owners of Chocolaterie Guylian. The Kretfings “offered me the opportunity to help build the Guylian business and brand from the roots up,” she says.
 
Coopersmith has served on the board of the National Confectionery Association and is currently a board member of the National Confectionery Sales Association. She was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame in 2001.
 
For more information, visit www.guylian.be.