Hershey hires outsider to fill new CIO job

Hershey Foods Corp. yesterday named a new CIO, bringing in former Computer Sciences Corp. executive George Davis to manage the company's IT integration group and its data center, e-commerce and electronic data interchange (EDI) operations.

The hiring of Davis came just three days after the Hershey, Pa.-based candy maker announced a new chief operating officer. Davis will report to the COO, William Christ, who previously was Hershey's chief financial officer. The company also appointed a replacement for Christ in the finance job.

Hershey said the top-level changes aren't related to the company's financial performance, adding that its business outlook "continues to point to a good finish for the year." Hershey's profits were hit in late 1999 and early this year due to start-up problems with a $112 million order-processing and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, but the snafus are now said to have been fixed (see story).

"We have made great strides in that area," a Hershey spokesman said. The CIO job is a new position created for Davis, he added. The spokesman wouldn't specify how Hershey's IT operations had been managed previously, but he confirmed that Richard Bentz, the company's vice president of IT integration, will now report to Davis.

For Davis, the job at Hershey is a return to the ranks of corporate IT executives. He worked most recently in a consulting role as vice president of global infrastructure services at El Segundo, Calif.-based CSC. Before that, he held high-level IT management jobs at aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney, Black & Decker Corp. and several other companies.

Hershey's systems problems a year ago caused order fulfillment problems during the 1999 Halloween season, the busiest selling season of the year for candy makers. The company had trouble pushing orders through the new system, resulting in shipment delays and deliveries of incomplete orders to retailers (see story).

The system is based on SAP AG's suite of ERP applications and companion products from Siebel Systems Inc. and Manugistics Group Inc. Hershey last spring said its order cycle times and other customer service metrics had returned to normal levels. In October, it reported that third-quarter profits were up 23% from the year-earlier period, when the system problems were being felt most acutely.

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