Hershey chief financial officer Patricia Little has announced her intention to retire from the US confectioner next spring with a search for a successor already underway.

Little, who is also senior vice president of the New York-listed firm, has held the Hershey CFO position since 2015. She was brought in from recruitment company Kelly Services, and previously spent more than two decades at Ford Motor Co. 

“After more than a decade as a CFO for two public companies, I am looking forward to a more relaxed lifestyle,” said Little. “I will continue to be focused on delivering our 2018 commitments and setting up the business with a strong 2019 plan.” 

Michele Buck, who was promoted to chief executive of the Pennsylvania-based firm last year from COO, commented: “Patricia has been a critical leader at Hershey, providing counsel and partnership as I took the helm and charted a new vision for the company. Patricia has been instrumental in helping create a more profitable and sustainable international business model, instilling a more disciplined cost-management model across the enterprise, and successfully leading the company’s financial systems implementation, an important piece of our ERP transformation.”

Last month, Hershey upgraded its outlook for 2018 reported sales on the back of recent acquisitions and disposals. It purchased US-based Amplify Snack Brands last year, and more recently offloaded its Chinese subsidiary Shanghai Golden Monkey in July and UK crisps maker Tyrrells to Intersnack in May.  

Hershey said full-year reported net sales are expected to increase towards the “low end” of the updated 3.5% to 5.5% range, including the “updated net impact from acquisitions and divestitures of approximately 3.5 points versus the previous estimate of 5 points, reflecting recent international business divestitures”.

The outlook for organic net sales was reaffirmed towards the “low end of the slightly up to 2% range”.