HERSHEY, PA. — John P. Bilbrey, executive vice-president and chief operating officer at The Hershey Co., has been named interim president and chief executive officer at the company. He succeeds David J. West, who has informed Hershey’s board of directors that he is leaving to become c.e.o. of San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods in August.

“We’re pleased that J.P. has accepted this position,” said James E. Nevels, chairman of the board. “He has worked closely with the board for several years and has been involved in all aspects of the company’s strategy and operations. The board has seen firsthand his leadership and expertise and unanimously made this appointment. We will work quickly to name a permanent chief executive officer to ensure the continuation of this orderly transition.”

Mr. Bilbrey has more than 30 years of global consumer packaged goods experience and has been with Hershey since 2003, when he joined the company as senior vice-president, president Hershey International. He later held the position of president of Hershey North America, and in 2010 was named c.o.o. with responsibility for day-to-day global operations and commercial activities, leading the company's supply chain as well as geographic regions, including the United States, the Americas and Asia.

Before joining Hershey, Mr. Bilbrey held executive positions at Mission Foods and Danone Waters of North America, Inc., a division of Groupe Danone, Paris. Additionally, he spent 22 years at The Procter & Gamble Co., where he served in positions of increasing responsibility in the U.S. domestic business as well as numerous international assignments.