Following the sudden resignation of Hershey's CEO David West today, the sweet maker simultaneously announced that John Bilbrey, current EVP and COO, would take the helm as interim president and CEO.
West, who is leaving to take up the CEO position at Del Monte Foods, began his tenure at Hershey's in 2001, eventually leading to his installment as CEO in 2007. His departure from Hershey's comes as a shock after strong sales and profits, as well as recent successes with new product launches. Q1 saw the company report an 8.6% increase in profit.
Hershey's clearly had an emergency succession plan in place and acted on it immediately, leaving little room for questions or uncertainty. However, the company's next closely monitored step will be how it will calm and reassure its stockholders. Hershey's shares fell 2.8% following the exit announcement this morning,
According to the Del Monte Foods' press release, West will begin his role there on August 15. He is replacing interim CEO Neil Harrison, who was named to the role after the company went private and was acquired by a number of investors last month.
Hershey's successor, Bilbrey, has worked at the company since 2003, and was appointed to COO last year. His previous consumer packaged goods experience includes roles at Mission Foods, Danone Waters of North America, and Procter & Gamble.
Hershey's was not immediately available for comment.