Hershey has appointed Michele Buck, the head of its business in North America, to the newly-created role of COO.

The Reese’s owner said Buck, 54, will continue to lead the company’s day-to-day North American operations but will now also oversee Hershey’s operations in Central and South America.

The company’s global supply chain, sales, marketing, innovation, research and development, and consumer insights divisions will report to Buck, who will continue to report to Hershey’s president, chairman and CEO John Bilbrey.

Bilbrey said: “Michele has worked closely with me for the past eight years as a partner and collaborator on the global growth strategies we are now pursuing. Her combination of industry, retail and consumer knowledge uniquely qualifies her to drive Hershey’s operating priorities.”

Prior to joining Hershey in 2005, Buck served 17 years at Kraft and Nabisco in several senior positions and at the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo.

Hershey’s first-quarter results, posted last April, reported falling sales and earnings, cuts to forecasts for 2016. Alongside the numbers, Hershey upped its cost savings targets from 2017. The company said its results were hit by continued pressure in China and challenges in North America. First-quarter net sales in North America fell 4.3% to US$1.63bn.

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