Patrice N. Le Maire joined the corporation as President, Hershey International, on July 1, 1997. He is responsible for the profitability and growth of the corporation's operations outside North America. Patrice came to Hershey from The Procter & Gamble Company where he served in a series of positions with responsibility for growing international sales. He brings to Hershey the perspective of a multinational leader in consumer product sales and marketing.
During 1997, Hershey International achieved solid sales growth and was significantly more profitable than in previous years. Compared with 1996, however, the division's 1997 sales were substantially lower as a result of the divestiture of Gubor Schokoladen and Sperlari Srl., our European businesses, in late 1996. During 1998, we expect to invest significant resources to enhance the growth of our international businesses.