The beginnings of a new chapter for Hershey’s has been set in motion, with longtime leader John P. Bilbrey preparing to retire next year. To succeed him, the company has selected COO, Executive VP, and 11-year Hershey veteran Michele Buck.
"Hershey is an incredibly special company with a rich 120-year history of bringing goodness to the world," Buck said. "I am honored to be chosen as the next leader of this innovative and pioneering business. The opportunity ahead for Hershey is tremendous, and to take advantage of it will require a clear focus on meeting the evolving needs of consumers while moving quickly to stay ahead of the trends shaping our business."
Effective March 1, 2017, Buck will step into Bilbrey’s shoes as the company’s next President and CEO. Following his retirement, Bilbrey will continue as Non-Executive Chairman of Hershey's Board of Directors, according to a press release.
"Michele is a proven leader who, during 11 years at Hershey and more than 25 years as an executive in the consumer packaged goods industry, has a demonstrated track record of building brands consumers love while bringing out the best in employees amid a rapidly changing business environment," said Bilbrey. "She has consistently displayed a keen sense for how to grow our iconic brands. The unanimous vote by the board is a testament to the confidence we have in Michele as the next leader of this great company.”
Since joining the company in 2005, Buck has headed up and/or executed a number of Hershey’s successful growth initiatives and strategic shifts. Among the most notable the company named was the substantial growth in its core confection portfolio in moving from a supply- to demand-driven business model.
When it came to the company's strategy to expand into broader snacking categories, Hershey’s called her “the architect” of that endeavor, having overseen the acquisitions of the KRAVE and barkThins brands.
"I look forward to working closely with our board and the entire Hershey team to further our vision for 2017 and beyond," continued Buck. "I also would like to thank JP for his leadership, mentorship, and friendship over the last several years. It is an honor to be succeeding him as CEO and I look forward to his continued guidance as chairman of our board."
With more than a decade of company insights and an already-established portfolio for helping to further its growth, we will continue to report as Hershey’s bids farewell to one legacy and ushers in another.