Fearnley Group, the Manchester-based contractor bought by Mowlem managers Robert Dean and Chris Stroud two years ago, has gone into receivership.

Receiver Arthur Andersen was appointed last Tuesday at the £20m-turnover firm.

Staff at Fearnley’s Manchester office said the company is still trading and it is “business as usual”. However, one said he did not know whether he would be paid or not.

Andrew Fearnley, managing director and chairman of Fearnley Construction, said he was “disappointed, but determined to sell the company as a going concern”.

Dean and Stroud bought the contractor in November 1997. Fearnley blamed the turmoil created by the takeover for the failure. He said: “It was like a still pond before, but after the sale, it was like dropping a big boulder right in the middle.”

In April 1998, the contractor bought maintenance firm MBM, but integrating the two companies proved difficult. More recent problems have included a large claim with a major client.

Fearnley said work was carrying on at the company’s sites.

Arthur Andersen partners Simon Allport and Richard Fleming are handling the receivership.