Last November, J.P. Bilbrey, who joined Hershey in 2003, was elected executive vice president, COO of The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa. He brings 30 years of consumer packaged goods experience in the U.S. and international markets to this newly created role. He is responsible for Hershey's day-to-day operations and global commercial activities, leading the company's supply chain as well as realigned geographic regions, including the U.S., the Americas and Asia. In addition, he also leads two newly created global strategic business units (SBU) -- the Chocolate SBU and Sugar Confection SBU – and is responsible for building and leveraging Hershey's global brands, creating confectionery marketplace innovation and disseminating best demonstrated practices around the world.
"J.P. has an extensive record of success in delivering global growth and in building successful teams at Hershey," said President and CEO David J. West. "In this new role, J.P. will ensure that we continue our unrelenting focus on building on our competitive advantage in the U.S. while at the same time we focus on developing other international markets. We will continue to make the investments that will enable us to build scale in key growth markets such as China and Mexico. This new structure will enable Hershey to build formulas for repeatable success in our global markets." And he added, "J.P.'s global experience and knowledge of our business will ensure that more and more consumers around the world will come to recognize the quality and fun represented by Hershey's brands."
Founded in 1894, The Hershey Co. has 12,000 employees, operations throughout the world and revenues of more than $5 billion. It offers such iconic brands as Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Mounds, Kit Kat (licensed from Nestle), York, Peppermint Patty, Twizzlers, Ice Breakers, and Hershey's Bliss chocolates. A leader in the fast-growing dark and premium chocolate segment, brands include Hershey's Special Dark and Hershey's Extra Dark. In addition, Artisan Confections Co., a wholly owned subsidiary, markets premium chocolate Scharffen Berger and Dagoba. Hershey also makes grocery goods such as baking chocolate, ice cream toppings, chocolate syrup, cocoa mix, cookies, snack nuts, hard candies, and lollipops. Hershey Trust Co., Hershey's largest shareholder, funds the Milton Hershey School for disadvantaged children – and controls 80 percent of Hershey's voting power.
Most recently senior vice president, president Hershey North America, Bilbrey was responsible for leading Hershey's U.S. and Canadian businesses, played a key leadership role in Hershey's turnaround since the creation and implementation of the company's consumer demand landscape as well as in establishing Hershey's presence in markets around the world. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president, president, Hershey International, responsible for directing Hershey's international businesses and the execution of its global strategy.
Bilbrey, who received his bachelor's in psychology from Kansas State, began his career as a sales rep at the Procter & Gamble Co. In 22 years there, he served in positions of increasing responsibility in both the U.S. and abroad. He has broad international experience and has lived and worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. He joined Danone Waters of North America Inc., a division of Groupe Danone, Paris, France as president and CEO, responsible for all operations of Groupe Danone's North American water division. He then joined Mission Foods as senior vice president.
Confectionery remains one of the better-performing snack categories bringing some Almond Joy to stockholders. In the third quarter of 2010, ended October 3, 2010. Hershey's net sales increased 4.2 percent (with projected full-year 2010 net sales increases of about 7 percent), driven primarily by U.S. core brand volume growth, including new products (Hershey's Drops and Reese's Mini's), and growth in emerging markets, which continue to increase at rates greater than the company's overall long-term target. For the first nine months of 2010, consolidated net sales were $4,188,200 million compared with $3,891,332 million for the first nine months of 2009. In January this year, shares of Hershey began to heat up following an upgrade from Janney Capital, whose analysts described Hershey has "the clearest growth story in food."
Looking at 2011, Hershey will continue to focus on its core brands and leverage Hershey's scale at retail. Advertising expense is expected to increase 50 to 60 percent, and expectation is for net sales growth to be within the company's 3 to 5 percent long-term target. Although higher input costs in 2011 are anticipated, productivity and cost savings initiatives are in place to help mitigate the impact. Therefore, (barring unforseen circumstances) Hershey expects 2011 growth in adjusted earnings per share-diluted to be in the 6 to 8 percent range, consistent with its current long-term target.