Hershey appoints Chief Operating Officer Buck as CEO

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U.S. chocolate maker Hershey Co named Chief Operating Officer Michele Buck as its chief executive and president, effective March 1.

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Buck will succeed John Bilbrey, who said in October he would retire as CEO and president. He will continue as the non-executive chairman, the company had said.Buck, who joined Hershey in 2005, was the architect of the company's expansion into broader snacking categories and oversaw the acquisitions of Krave and barkThins brands, the company said on Wednesday.

The maker of Hershey's Kisses, which rejected a $23 billion offer from Mondelez International Inc in August, is now working to cut costs by consolidating its supply chain and some factories in China and North America, and spending less on advertising.

Buck may also have to contend with the plans of the charitable trust that controls Hershey. The trust in July reached a major reform agreement with its overseer, the Pennsylvania attorney general's office.

(Reporting by Aravind K in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)