A LANDLORD who announced he is leaving a popular pub has laid bare the challenges he faced trying to keep it afloat.

Earlier this week, the Lancashire Telegraph reported landlord Mike Hales is pulling the plug on his time at the Butlers Arms in Pleasington ‘with a heavy heart’.

Now, the 46-year-old has revealed the reasons for his decision to leave the pub at the end of the month, after five years in charge.

He said: “About a month ago we were in negotiations for a 10-year lease and we were very positive and confident of a deal but the rents have gone up. The last eight months have changed things in the industry. We are no longer making a profit and it has made me ill so it is the wrong time to be taking on a 10-year lease.

“The pub company Star Pubs and Bars gave an offer of other alternatives but it is more for my health that it is an opportunity to get out.”

READ - 'Great sadness' as Butlers Arms in Pleasington to close

Apart from his health Mr Hales added the decision to leave came after a series of circumstances.

He said: “One of the biggest factors was that we could not get a chef and had to stop serving food.

“Our former chef was on a decent salary but they left as they wanted to move close to home so it was amicable.

“But with wages and gas and electric costs it was hard.

“We had been advertising for eight members of staff including a manager and the chef but we could not fill those posts.

“It has been a worse time than in the middle of the pandemic.

“We were having people not turning up for interviews and the people we were getting was a mixed bag.

“The biggest catalyst was that I am not looking after myself.”

Owners Star Pubs and Bars have released a statement about the future of the pub.

A spokesman said: “We are sad to hear that the licensee of The Butlers Arms has chosen to leave.

“We are keen to re-open the pub again as soon as possible once a new licensee is found to take it on.

“The Butlers Arms is a great pub so we anticipate it will attract quite a bit of interest.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hales has added that he has been amazed by the messages of support since he announced on Facebook about leaving.

“I have been overwhelmed by the emails and messages but it is about the industry and it is not going to be right for a few years after what we have had with COVID.

“We did not employ staff from overseas so you cannot blame Brexit for the staff levels.

“The Butlers Arms was a ‘destination’ pub so it meant that workers were having to travel to us to work whereas some of our other pubs have lots of staff in the community.”

“The pub industry is knackered and it is going to take time to recover.

“I am now refocusing my efforts on the other pubs in Bolton and North Wales (The Railway, and Tal y cafn).”

On the Lancashire Telegraph page, readers were also leaving their views on the news.

Craig Pottage said: “(It is) So sad such a lovely pub and the food was great.”

Mark Hudson said: “COVID has a lot to answer for business closing down all the time because of this! Absolutely joke.”

Mitzi Dean said: “Sad about this! One of our favourites.”