David J. West


John P. “J.P.” Bilbrey

The Hershey Co.’s ceo, David J. West, is leaving to take the top job at Del Monte Foods Co.

John P. “J.P.” Bilbrey, executive vice president and chief operation office of Hershey, has been named interim president and ceo of Hershey, the company says.

“After 10 years with the company, it’s time to take on the next challenge,” West said in a statement provided by Hershey. “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.”

West, who’s replacing Neil Harrison, Del Monte’s interim-ceo, will start in his new role Aug. 15 and will join the company’s board in June. The Wall Street Journal reports that West was wooed by Del Monte, and that the company will give him a very equity-linked pay package.

In the statement from Del Monte, West says he’s honored to join the company - which offers a range of branded pet products and food products such as Meow Mix, and Contadina - at such an exciting time.

“I have admired Del Monte’s transformation into a multi-billion diversified branded pet and consumer products company,” he says. “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.”

James E. Nevels, chairman of Hershey’s board of directors, said the board plans to work quickly to name a permanent ceo, but added that he’s pleased J.P. has accepted the interim position.

“He has worked closely with the board for several years and has been involved in all aspects of the company’s strategy and operation,” Nevels says.

Bilbrey joined Hershey in 2003 as senior vice president, president Hershey International. Before that, he held executive position at Mission Food and Danone Waters of North America, Inc., a division of Groupe Danone, Paris France.

He also spent 22 years at The Procter & Gamble Co., where he served in both U.S. domestic positions and numerous international assignments.

Kevin Walling

The Hershey Co. also announced this week that Kevin Walling has been named senior vice president, chief people officer, effective June 1.

Walling will serve as the chief architect for Hershey’s human resources, talent retentions, development and recruitment and total rewards strategies.

Walling has 24 years of human resource experience and most recently served as vice president and chief human resources office of Kennamental Inc., a global technology and manufacturing company in Latrobe, Pa.

“I’m very excited to be joining Hershey, which is known for its great brands and unmatched commitment to the community,” Walling says.

For more information visit http://www.thehersheycompany.com/ and http://www.delmonte.com/.