The Hershey Company’s new chief executive plans to take the iconic candy maker beyond chocolate. Speaking to Fortune in her first major interview, Michele Buck says she wants to turn Hershey into an “innovation snacking powerhouse.” And she’s open to making a “transformational acquisition” to hit that goal.
When Buck was tapped to run Hershey in March, she became the first female CEO in the company’s 123-year history. Fortune ranked her for the first time this year on its list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. And it looks like Buck is already making powerful moves.
“I’m very open to mergers and acquisitions. I see them playing a key role in our growth agenda going forward,” says Buck. “We’ve an opportunity with mergers and acquisitions to go into spaces where our brands currently can’t travel. And that will be one way we grow.”
That’s what Mondelez International attempted to do a year ago when it made a $23 billion bid for Hershey. The goal was to create a snacking and confectionary giant on a global scale that would combine Mondelez brands like Oreo cookies and Chips Ahoy with Hershey’s Twizzler and Reese’s peanut butter cups. The talks collapsed over differences on the deal price.
So what kind of deal is Buck looking for now?
“I think it’s about the right marriage of portfolios, expansion into new areas that are on trend with consumers,” she says, “and of course, the right price factors into that as well.”
Buck says she already has a team at Hershey “constantly working and evaluating” companies in the snacking business. She says it is helping her “to zero in on what might be the best fit for us.”
Watch the video above to hear more of our conversation with Buck.