John P. Bilbrey, Hershey
 John P. Bilbrey will step down on July 1, 2017.

HERSHEY, PA. — John P. Bilbrey will step down as president and chief executive officer of The Hershey Co. on July 1, 2017. The company’s board of directors has created a special committee to direct the search for a new c.e.o. Pamela Arway, chair of Hershey’s governance committee, will lead the search.

“I have had the privilege of working in consumer packaged goods for more than 35 years and leading The Hershey Co. has been the highlight of my career,” Mr. Bilbrey said. “Our iconic brands, remarkable employees and commitment to making a difference in the world has made this a difficult decision for me. But now is the right time to begin the process of handing over the reins as c.e.o. as it will allow me to spend more time with my family and wonderful grandchildren.”

After July 2017, Mr. Bilbrey will remain on Hershey’s board of directors as non-executive chairman.

In addition to announcing Mr. Bilbrey’s pending retirement, the company reaffirmed its full-year 2016 outlook.