Cains Beer Company this morning announced it had made a pre-tax loss of £4.6m for the six months to April 28 and declared the period as the "most diffcult" in its history. The Liverpool-based pub group and brewer said its interim results it had been hit by declining consumer confidence, a historic lack of investment in its retail business, rising input costs, the smoking ban and changes to duty rate penalties. For the same period last year the company had made a £0.69 million loss. Sudarghara Dusanj, chief executive, said: “As predicted, the smoking ban and reduced levels of consumer confidence have had a significant impact on the short term trading position of the business. “Our retail division is also suffering from a historic lack of investment but positive returns are being made from our investment in pub refurbishments and Cains beer brands are increasing their presence nationally.” Cains added that – in the absence of a significant improvement in trading during the second half – it anticipates group operating losses for the year to October 28 will also be higher than expected. The company reiterated that it was in advanced discussions with its bankers regarding funding and said it believed it was to close an agreement regarding appropriate levels of funding Because of this it said this interim financial information had been prepared on a going-concern basis. The group said it was also in advanced negotiations with the Revenue & Customs department regarding outstanding duty and other liabilities and has agreed a payment plan. Cains also announced that finance director Paul Morgan had resigned.