Hershey Co. President and CEO John P. Bilbrey will retire on July 1, 2017, the Derry Township candy company announced Friday morning.
As part of the company’s succession planning process, the board has appointed a special committee to direct the search for a new CEO.
That committee is led by Pamela Arway, chair of the governance committee. The committee will review internal and external candidates with assistance from executive search firm Egon Zehnder.
Bilbrey, who took over in May 2011, will continue as non-executive chairman of Hershey’s board of directors, a statement indicated. He was elected chairman of the board last year.
Bilbrey’s total compensation package last year was $10.8 million, down from $17.7 million in 2014.
“I have had the privilege of working in consumer packaged goods for more than 35 years and leading The Hershey Company has been the highlight of my career,” Bilbrey said in a news release.
“Our iconic brands, remarkable employees and commitment to making a difference in the world has made this a difficult decision for me,” he added.
“But now is the right time to begin the process of handing over the reins as CEO as it will allow me to spend more time with my family and wonderful grandchildren.”
Arway said Bilbrey “has been a great leader for The Hershey Company and we are grateful for his unwavering commitment and many contributions to Hershey’s success during his 13 years with the company.”
“Succession planning has always been a top priority for our board of directors, and we look forward to an orderly leadership transition,” she said. “We are confident in J.P. and his leadership team and know they will continue to focus on growing the business while upholding Hershey’s great heritage and values as the board conducts a thorough search to identify the right person to lead this company into the future.”