John P. Bilbrey, chairman, president and ceo of The Hershey Co., announced Friday he will retire from the company July 1.
Bilbrey, who was named president and ceo in 2011, said he wants to “hand over the reins” to spend more time with his family and grandchildren. He will remain as non-executive chairman of Hershey’s Board of Directors after his retirement.
“I have had the privilege of working in consumer packaged goods for more than 35 years and leading The Hershey Co. has been the highlight of my career,” he says. “Our iconic brands, remarkable employees and commitment to making a difference in the world has made this a difficult decision for me.”
Bilbrey succeeded David J. West, who left to take the top job at Del Monte Foods Co. Since joining Hershey in 2003, Bilbrey has served as executive vice president and chief operation officer. Before joining the company, Bilbrey held executive positions at Mission Foods and Danone Waters of North America, Inc., a division of Groupe Danone, Paris, France. Additionally, he spent 22 years at The Procter & Gamble Co.
“I am proud of all that we have accomplished as a team,” Bilbrey says. “I am confident that the board will identify an outstanding candidate to lead The Hershey Co. through this next phase of growth. I look forward to working with the board to make the transition to new leadership a seamless process.”
Hershey’s board has appointed a special committee to direct the search for a new ceo. Pamela Arway, chairperson of Hershey’s governance committee, heads the search committee. It will review internal and external candidates with help from Egon Zehnder, an executive search firm.
“J.P. has been a great leader for The Hershey Co., and we are grateful for his unwavering commitment and many contributions to Hershey’s success during his 13 years with the company,” Arway says. “Succession planning has always been a top priority for our board of directors, and we look forward to an orderly leadership transition.”