WAITROSE wants to grow – but Britain seems strangely bereft of suitable sites for the grocer, which is fighting a bitter convenience store war with its bigger rivals. So a desperate Waitrose has launched a highly unorthodox appeal to landlords to help it out.

All sites and all properties will be considered, says the grocer – from pubs to petrol stations – and if those opportunities run dry, the business will turn to developing brownfield sites and arterial and out-of-town locations. It’s radical stuff from the green-logoed retailer.

“Sites urgently required for 2012,” says Waitrose, in a property industry magazine advertisement plea – the second within a fortnight – asking leaseholders to make contact with its team of regional estate agents with any suitable locations.

“We are looking at everything,” said a spokesperson for Waitrose, who said that while sites have been secured for this year’s further 15 openings – including in Prince Charles’s model village Poundbury in Dorset – the business is “not yet sure where we are with 2012 yet”.

It is astonishing that at the height of a High?Street crisis, which is seeing a wave of shops go bust, that a retailer such as Waitrose is being forced to hunt down old pubs to grow.

However, Tom Keys-Toyer, partner in the Bristol office of King Sturge, who oversaw the leases for the planned Cardiff and Shrewsbury shops, insists that “it is about making sure every site is profitable and has the right customer base,” he said.

So if you are desperate to get a local Waitrose, you know what you have to do. You just need to convince your local publican to sell up to the chattering classes’ favourite retailer.

PASSERS-BY on the South Bank yesterday morning stared in disbelief at the sight of a grown man running a full marathon on a treadmill inside one of the capsules of the London Eye.

That high-altitude human running machine was Noel Bresland, a senior consulting manager at Deloitte, who has set himself the task of running 223 marathons over the next ten years in aid of children’s charities Children With Leukaemia and Bliss, after his nephew Ethan died tragically just 223 days into his life.

Bresland, 35, is no stranger to adventurous marathons, having completed one in the North Pole in 2004, but his next feat – running the London marathon in 12 days’ time dressed as Little Miss Naughty – is his most outlandish yet.

“We hope to break the world record for the fastest book character category, which is currently four hours and four minutes,” he told The Capitalist. “It’s going to be challenging: the costume is very big and it weighs 20kg so I’ll need to get used to that. I started practising today in the pod, actually.” To support Bresland, please visit

NOT to be outdone, Michael Savage, partner at Killik Capital, has rallied the investment fund’s troops to put together a team of six to take part in the Artemis Quadrathlon near Scotland’s Loch Tay on 9 July.

The brokers will swim 1.3km, kayak 11km, cycle 54km and run 25km over seven munros, all within a day – and Savage reckons the quadrathlon will be “the most gruelling physical test any of us have undertaken”.

So the other five team members – Tim Shaw, Ben McKeown, Jer O’Mahony, Sam Younger and Gordon Smith – are taking no prisoners with their training schedules, fitting in feats such as the Three Peaks Challenge, the Paris and Edinburgh marathons and the Volcano triathlon in Lanzarote before they undertake the Perthshire race. If they have any energy left, that is.

THE “adrenaline rush” that decided the course of Risk Capital Partners chairman Luke Johnson’s life came when the Dean of Oxford University threatened to send him down if he carried on having riotous parties in his rooms in Magdalen College.

Undaunted, the 18-year-old Johnson came up with the idea of switching the venue for his raucous parties to a local nightclub, where he and his colleague had the bright idea of charging guests on the door, while the club took the bar money.

“On the opening night, I arrived 20 minutes early – and there was already a queue,” he told an audience of young entrepreneurs at The Hospital Club. “In that split second, I knew that is what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to spend my career building companies as an owner.”

As good as his word, Johnson (pictured left) famously went on to become the chairman of Superbrands, Giraffe Restaurants and Channel 4, to name but a few of his successful operations.

Just don’t remind him of his forays into diet software, restoring classic cars and reselling share registers.

“I think it’s fair to say [those projects] were resounding flops,” he said. “But a life without risk-taking is a life too boring to contemplate.”