USA – The Hershey Company, an American company and one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world, has announced that Patricia A. Little, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, intends to retire from the company in the spring of 2019.

The company said that Little has served as the company’s CFO since joining in 2015.

“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,” said Michele Buck, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Hershey 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.

She will remain a strong partner to me and the business as we plan for her transition.”

“After more than a decade as a CFO for two public companies, I am looking forward to a more relaxed lifestyle,” said Little.

“Hershey is a wonderful company with a great future ahead of it.

I will continue to be focused on delivering our 2018 commitments and setting up the business with a strong 2019 plan.”

The company said it has commenced a search for a CFO successor.

The company also reaffirmed its full year 2018 guidance as outlined in the company’s second quarter 2018 earnings announcement.

According to FoodBev, the  announcement comes months after Hershey was named among four companies from the food and beverage industry commended by DiversityInc in its annual list of the world’s most diverse businesses.

The Pennsylvania-based firm was praised for having strong representation for women in senior roles; it has twice as many women in the top two levels of management as the average across the S&P 500.

Her departure means that among the world’s 100 largest food and beverage companies only Hershey and Land O’Lakes – which appointed Beth Ford as its chief executive just last month – have female CEOs.

In its most recent quarterly results, Hershey saw its net sales rise 5.3%, thanks in part to the strong performance of the product portfolio of its Amplify business.