Ignite Group has significant gaps in its senior management team and its flagship Boujis nightclub – favourite of young royals – recently had to close for a couple of weeks following a widely-reported brawl outside.

Chief executive, Matt Hermer, however, appears totally relaxed. In fact, he is resolutely upbeat, full of excitement and positively brimming over with ideas to drive his diverse portfolio forward.

“I always like to find the good rather than focus on the bad,” he says. “I am not good enough at that, but I do try.”

The group comprises Boujis in London and Hong Kong; three Bumpkin seasonal British restaurants in London and the Kitchen Bar and Grill spin off at Westfield Stratford; plus three Eclipse bars (two in London, one under licence with Starwood Hotels at its W Hotel in Barcelona), and Wyld nightclub, the W Lounge Bar and Screening Room, all at Starwood’s W Hotel in London’s Leicester Square.

Yes, Ignite is currently lacking a managing director, someone to head property, and directors in marketing and the food side of things. Yes this makes life somewhat hectic for Hermer and has held him back from getting on with everything he wants to. But the business overall turns over between £15m and £18m a year, so there is clearly a fair bit of good to focus on.

In addition, during the summer Hermer opened Top Dog in Soho, an upmarket hotdog outlet of the type familiar on the west coast of America. It is his first venture with Californian wife Marissa, who is one of the main characters in American TV reality show Ladies of London. “It’s going great,” he enthuses. “It’s great fun to work together.”

It has been well-received, making the shortlist for Best New Concept in the Time Out Love London awards. Clearly the TV exposure helps, but Marissa is a real foodie and has a background in food and beverage PR in New York with the likes of Ian Schragar and Nobu, so the partnership makes sense from a business point of view too.

Their first site in Frith Street is not ideal, being in a five storey building, but it has allowed the pair to play around with the concept in terms of message, supply chain and ambience, to get it right for roll out, which is definitely the plan.

“They [the public] are getting it, but it is quite polarising. We set up for more grab and go and we are doing more eating in and have had to put two burgers on the menu,” Hermer says.

Average spend is about £15 per head and a second site is under offer, closer to Ignite’s Chelsea head office, which Hermer hopes will open early next year. The privately-funded venture boasts Ewan Ventners, CEO of luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason, as chairman.

The Hermers are also working on Top Dog Diner, an 80-plus seat version with a more extensive menu, cocktails and craft beers and spend per head at more like £30. All being well, a pilot site will open in London in March/April.

Hermer says he would like to open between eight and 10 of each format, but would require further investment to achieve that. He is also considering whether to bring Top Dog into the Ignite portfolio, where he is looking at a number of options to help him fulfil his ambitions for the other brands and some new ventures.

Cardiff-raised Hermer made his name in the high-end bar and nightclub scene, having come to the industry after eight years of working in the City when he and a friend, Paul Deeming (no longer involved in the business), bought Barfly, a favourite Chelsea drinking haunt of theirs on instinct on learning it was up for sale. In 1998 it be-came the first Eclipse bar and is still operating today. Boujis became the headline-grabber, but as the business has evolved, so too have Hermer’s interests.

“I have been in this 100 years now,” he jokes. “I am more focused towards high-end fast-casual food. I have always been fairly disciplined and I have grown up in the late-night sector from my late-20s, but I don’t do late nights any more.”

Given that he is now in his 40s and has two sons under the age of five, this seems both reasonable and wise.

It makes sense, then, that most of his energies are being put into the restaurant side of things. As well as the plans for Top Dog, Hermer says he is currently in talks with “one quite well-known operator” to help roll out Bumpkin and he hopes to open site number four in the first half of next year. At one point Hermer had a target of 20 restaurants under the brand by 2018, but things didn’t work out with then managing director Tina English (who had taken over from previous short-term MD Jason Myers) and it has been too tall an order for Hermer to grow without the support of a solid senior management team.

The search for a replacement is continuing, but Hermer is confident things will fall into place on this, and that he will find both a “killer food person, probably across Ignite” (whose top priority will be to ensure quality of food throughout the group is “consistently consistent – if it’s not, that’s quite high on my list of things that drive me mad”) and another senior recruit to help with the roll out, in the next few months. Jonny Shonn, ex-Deliverance and Ping Pong, joined as chief financial officer a couple of months ago and Conrad Patterson has been in place as operations director for about nine months now. Chair is Christopher Poil, who has been on board for a number of years. Hermer concedes the business has got through a larger than average number of senior executives and agrees his expectations may have been too high sometimes, but he is unapologetic.

“Everyone [consumers] is much too discerning now, so my expectations need to be high. Also, it is something I am so passionate about,” he explains.

He does admit that the nature of his business does make getting the right people even more difficult.

“Most people, sensibly, focus on one part of the market, ie restaurants or bars or nightclubs, and it is bloody hard to find people with the skill sets that go across all those disciplines. It has taken me 17 years and I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it.”

The answer, he believes now, is to find people with more specific skills to take the business forward. Operating so short-handed has been useful for him to really get to grips with every aspect of the company again, but it has been frustrating too, not being able to indulge his true passions for growing businesses and developing new concepts.He is determined to do both now, though.

As well as the potential roll out of Bumpkin, Hermer says he has a site for another brand spin-off, which will involve charcoal cooking. If successful, he says it could be the next step for the brand’s development. He seems fearless when trying new ideas, unafraid of failure. Senkai in Piccadilly, hailed as the first sustainably-sourced modern Japanese restaurant, went into liquidation after 12 months a few years back, but Hermer puts it all down to experience.

The first Bumpkin sub-brand, Kitchen, Bar and Grill, the all-day format operating at Westfield, took a couple of years to get right, he says, but he is proud of it and believes it is ideal for a British high-street rollout. Having said that, he is not prepared to compete with the crazy property prices being paid at the moment and would rather work with the landlords he has history with and who, therefore, understand the value of having his operations in their sites.

A deal was signed very recently, too for an Eclipse bar to be opened under licence in Istanbul early next year and Hermer says “there are quite a few things bubbling under” for that brand at the moment, with an even 50/50 split between opportunities in the UK and overseas. He adds that Eclipse requires a relatively high level of investment so, therefore, doesn’t feel the brand has as strong a rollout potential as some of the others in his portfolio. There are plans to tweak the Old Brompton Road Eclipse as a more food-led business to launch hopefully in February/March 2016. He anticipates that this will increase the average £12 spend per head to around £30 including food.

Discussions are also underway about taking further investment into Boujis, which Hermer believes could extend to one more site in the UK but has more potential for development overseas, particularly in the Middle East and Asia. He hints this could be achieved with one global partner.

Hermer is also keen to try his own taste of Asia here in the UK: “I am looking at another concept – Asian high-end featuring entertainment, cocktails and food – with a pretty well-known US chef. We have been talking for six months but it is site-specific and we are trying to find something in Mayfair to open some point next year.”

Oh, and there’s also his shareholding in La Bottega, the Italian caffè bar and deli business (where he recently stepped down as chair after concluding that he is too much of a do-er to find such a position anything less than frustrating), and he is looking at investing in a hospitality IT software firm, which he believes is working on something that could be “a rip-roaring success” throughout the industry, if it comes to fruition.

So, while it may look to the outside world as if Ignite has battened down the hatches somewhat over the past few years, inside has been a whirlwind of activity, the results of which could be imminent.