Contracting and tool-hire firm Allen has announced that it is selling G Pearce, its non-specialist civil engineering subsidiary. If a buyer cannot be found before the end of the year, the company will be closed.

Chairman Donald Greenhalgh said the move was part of the company’s increasing focus on hire and utility services and contracting. He added that the company’s performance in contracting had been disappointing.

Shares in Allen fell 13% after the announcement. The group surprised the City last month when it sold its housebuilding division to Morris Group. Its scaffolding and sheet piling divisions have also been sold, but the group denies speculation that its contracting arm will also be disposed of.

Funds from the Morris deal will be invested in utility and hire services, and Allen has said it is looking to make acquisitions in these areas.

The stock exchange recently contacted Allen to ask if it wanted to be recategorised as a support services company.