Hershey ( HSY) Chairman, CEO and President Richard Lenny intends to retire at the end of the year, the chocolate maker said late Monday.

Lenny, 55, has served as president and CEO since March 2001, adding the title of board chairman that December. The company said it has started looking for a replacement.

"The long-term prospects for our category and particularly for our company remain promising," Lenny said in a company press release. "I look forward to working closely with my successor so that the transition to new leadership will be effective and seamless."

The Wall Street Journal reported Lenny was frustrated with the trust that controls the Pennsylvania-based company amid a time rife with opportunities to consolidate in the confectionary space.

Campbell Soup ( CPB) in August said it was exploring a sale for its premium Godiva Chocolatier business. And Cadbury Schweppes ( CSG) has been a speculative merger partner as it looks to shed its drinks business to focus on candy.