Bilbrey succeeds James E. Nevels, chairman since February 2009, who assumes 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,” the Derry Township company said in a news release.
Since Bilbrey took over in May 2011, 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,” the release said.
Shares of Hershey have almost doubled since Bilbrey took the helm.
“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.,” Bilbrey said.
As lead independent director, Nevels’ duties will include 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,” Nevels said. “(Bilbrey) 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.”