The Hershey Co. announced that its Board of Directors has elected John Bilbrey as chairman of the Board of Directors of The Hershey Co., effective immediately.
Bilbrey will continue to be president and CEO of the global confectionery company, a role he has held since May 2011. Bilbrey succeeds Chairman James Nevels who held the position since February 2009 and will now assume the role of lead independent director.
The combination of the offices of CEO and chairman of the Board was proposed by Nevels and presented for Board consideration to underscore its confidence in Hershey, the existing management team and Bilbrey. Under Bilbrey’s leadership, Hershey has delivered strong financial results, expanded its global reach and positioned itself to capture new growth opportunities to build value for all of Hershey’s shareholders. His recent appointments to presidential advisory committees and leadership in the consumer packaged goods industry further demonstrate his depth of expertise for this expanded role.
“It is a privilege and honor to succeed Jim as chairman,” said Bilbrey. “On behalf of all of our employees, I’d like to thank Jim for his partnership and the solid contributions he has made as Chairman over the last six years as we transformed Hershey into a growth company. Our financial strength, global reach and vision, as well as great brands and experienced management team provide a strong foundation for the future of The Hershey Co. I look forward to working closely with Jim in his new role as lead independent director.”
As lead independent director, Nevels will hold a number of duties consistent with those he held as non-executive chairman and with best practices in corporate governance, including: serving as a liaison between the chairman and the independent directors, approving Board meeting agendas and schedules, and assisting with succession planning and crisis management.
“These changes to our Board are the result of careful thought and consideration by the full Board and are consistent with our vision for continuing to deliver sustainable growth and build on the legacy of our great company,” said Nevels. “J.P. is one of the most effective leaders in corporate America. Throughout his career, industry groups, government and corporations have turned to him for his thoughts and perspective on the changing dynamics of global food trends. We are fortunate that J.P. will continue to lead the company in this added capacity and I, as well as my fellow directors, look forward to working with J.P. as we continue to build value for all shareholders.”
The 8-K, filed earlier today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, summarizes the updates the Board made to the company’s governance structure as it relates to the expanded duties and responsibilities of the lead independent director.