(Yicai Global) Dec. 2 -- The general manager of the Hershey Co.'s China branch has stepped down from his role less than a week after he announced the US candy maker will reform its Chinese sales channels, which could affect the firm's operation going into the high season of Chinese New Year.
Tingzhou Dillon Hu, who was appointed in June 2019, left because of personal career development needs, an executive at Hershey's China told Beijing Business Today. Sales director Tian Lei and chief financial officer Carrie Chen will take up the reins until a more permanent solution is discovered.
Hu will join a famous Chinese insurer, the report suggested, citing market rumors. "I am sure any team or company would be honored to have the opportunity to work with such a distinguished executive," the same senior manager said, without confirming the hearsay.
Hu's departure could impact the retailer's performance this year and even in the long-term, as year-end holiday gifts make up almost half of Hershey's annual sales, said Zhu Danpeng, a food industry analyst. Leaving the company without choosing a successor before the Spring Festival is hasty, Zhu added.
The strategy shift could be bad news for some small dealers and staff. Optimizing the distributor network to reduce management costs is definitely the right decision from a corporate perspective, according to Shen Meng, director at Chanson & Co, a boutique investment bank in Beijing. But it will be difficult to replace many small and medium-sized dealers that have cooperated with the firm for years with a few big ones, Shen added.
The reforms could impact the company's employees, Hu said earlier. The Chinese branch had notified some workers that their labor contracts will be adjusted, the same news source had learned.
Industry insiders have speculated that the move could indicate that the Pennsylvania-headquartered maker of Hershey's Kisses and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups is planning to leave China. "China is one of Hershey's key markets, and Hershey's China will maintain its long-term development strategy in the Chinese market and keep its operating team and institutions," according to the above-mentioned executive.
Before joining Hershey's as a senior sales director in July 2017, Hu served PepsiCo China as a senior director.
Editor: Emmi Laine