MARK FRANCIS / CHAIRMAN
Mark is an entrepreneur, investor, and former investment banker. Mark has led and chaired a number of successful start-ups, both in the US and in Europe. Prior to this, Mark had a long career as an investment banker both in London and on Wall Street during which he was a Managing Director of Investment Banking at Citigroup, UBS, and Lazard where he specialized in Mergers and Acquisitions. Mark is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; a Fellow of The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, and holds a BSc.(Hons) from Aston University in England.
NICHOLAS KIRK / MANAGING DIRECTOR
Mr. Kirk’s broad finance experience includes a range of unique advisory mandates at all levels of transaction value. Specifically, Kirk has executed buy-side and sell-side assignments, Chapter 11 and privately negotiated restructurings and private market debt and equity placements. Mr. Kirk began his banking career in the M&A group of Lazard Fréres & Co., LLC, working with the Tech, Media and Telecom (TMT) team. Thereafter he was with Compass Advisers and Berenson & Company, LLC, serving a broad range of clients including: Private equity funds, hedge funds, public and privately held companies as well as veteran management teams. Industry coverage included consumer products, real estate and general industrial sectors. Mr. Kirk served as Vice-President of Finance and Operations of Christiana Vodka.
Mr. Kirk founded Hickory to provide clients in the consumer product, general industrial, real estate and technology sector with high quality, dispassionate advice. Hickory’s commercial philosophy is simple: “Successful Operations Create the Need for Finance”. Enduring value is created by providing experienced, capable human capital with the necessary tools to create products and services which resonate with customers.
Mr. Kirk earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with Distinction, from the University of Michigan Business School. He has passed the CPA exam. Mr. Kirk is an active philanthropist involved with The Brick Church’s volunteer activities.
RHYS MOORE / MANAGING DIRECTOR RETAIL & APPAREL
Mr. Moore’s professional experience includes senior management roles in Fortune 500 companies and private entrepreneurial firms managing brands across multiple channels of distribution. He has worked as a strategic consultant for Oxford Industries, Orvis, 66 North, Mary Norton, Skin Therapie as well as TriState Holdings (Shanghai) Mitsui (Japan) and the Apparel Group (UAE).
Moore began his career in a training function at Saks Fifth Avenue, moved to Xpres Corp., then to Sara Lee’s Champion Athletic unit where he held positions as Brand Manager, Director and National Sales Manager for several categories of the brand. Moore was responsible for several successful category launches and brand extensions in his roles at Champion. Moore then acquired, with a group, the distressed North American business of The Oroton Group (Australia). A turnaround was completed which included the opening of free standing retail stores and the development of an eCommerce business. Moore then went on to head the Global Apparel & Retail business for Victorinox Swiss Army Brands.
Before co-founding The Hickory Group with Mr. Kirk, Moore acted as a consultant to branded consumer companies as well as Investment Banking firms and Private Equity Groups. Moore earned his undergraduate degree from of the University of Michigan and earned his MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Rhys has served on the Board of Trustees of the Wooster School, and the Board of Directors of Sydney Harbour, Inc. Rhys is active in equestrian sports and avid outdoor sportsman.
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK BEESLY (RET., U.S. AIR FORCE) / SENIOR ADVISOR
Brigadier General Mark Beesley, Retired U.S. Air Force, is the President of Potomac Securities, LLC (“Potomac”). Concurrent to Beesley’s activities as the President of Potomac, the General serves as President of Lone Star International, LLC, (“LSI”), a firm he formed to participate in the global commodity market, particularly fuel and similar commodities. LSI advises both buyers and sellers in the global market, utilizing proprietary relationships with producers, refiners and end-users.
General Beesley provides clients with a unique commercial perspective, from government contract opportunities to building a results-oriented enterprise. Specifically, General Beesley’s work with technology, industrial and security firms allows them to draw on his deep understanding of military and government processes and protocols. Moreover, his unique set of global contacts allows consumer product firms c-level access to emerging markets. Beesley serves The Hickory Group, LLC as Senior Adviser.
Prior to leaving U.S. Air Force, the General was Deputy Director for Operations, Operations Team One, National Military Command Center, the Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. He performs initial analysis of developing military and political situations for the Operations Directorate of the Joint Staff, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and the President of the United States. General Beesley also performs nuclear watch in conjunction with the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Strategic Command, and is ready to advise the president on available courses of action and transmit the president’s nuclear decisions.
General Beesley was commissioned in June 1975 after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. He is a native of Dallas, Texas. The general has commanded a fighter squadron in England, and a fighter operations group in Panama City, Florida. He was a Command Director at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., and was the Director of the Korean Air Operations Center at Osan Air Base, South Korea. He also served as the Chairman of the Combined Effects Board for the U.S. and Republic of Korea air forces.
General Beesley is a distinguished graduate of pilot training and also received the Commander’s Trophy in his pilot training class. He is a command pilot with more than 2,900 hours of fighter flying time.
HUGO FRANCIS / SENIOR ANALYST
Hugo Francis joined The Hickory Group in 2016 and is a generalist banker with a particular focus on the firm's Social Responsibility and Sustainability Strategic Services. In particular, Hugo's domain knowledge includes renewable energy and advising B Corporation certified firms in sorting capital solutions without losing their mandate of "doing good by being good". Prior to joining Hickory, Hugo was a summer analyst at Zaoui & Co. in London. Hugo graduated with a 2.1 Honors Degree from the University of St. Andrews.