Posted on 20 December 2012
Historic St Helen's House is to become the headquarters of Smith Cooper, a leading Midlands’ accountancy and business advisory firm.
The firm, which has eight offices around the county, said it had been looking for a new office in the city for three years.
Partner David Nelson said: "I think there is a tradition to what we do as a business and we wanted something quite akin to what we stand for. We looked at various properties around Derby as we wanted to retain our presence in the city.
"St Helen's House has plenty of history and so do we and I think the building embodies a lot of what we are about."
Discussions with St Helen's House owner and restoration expert Richard Blunt began because Mr Blunt has been a client of Smith Cooper for 20 years.
Mr Blunt had planned to turn the building into a boutique hotel. However, he struggled to find an occupier, leaving his massive restoration project in jeopardy.
So, he began looking at other uses and for different occupiers.
He said: "I couldn't have borrowed the money from the bank without the guarantee of a tenant who would be paying for the next 10 to 20 years.
"The lease with Smith Cooper has allowed this restoration to go ahead."
The upper floors have been turned into office space, with the numerous windows and high ceilings letting in light.
The impressive ground floor and grand staircase will provide the centerpiece for meeting rooms.
Mr Blunt said it was the ground floor he would be keen to see back in use.
"It was built for entertaining and now it will be, and it is great for Derby."
Mr Blunt said adapting his plans for offices was actually less intrusive than turning St Helen's House into a hotel.
He said: "The trouble with hotels is they tend to require bars, bathrooms and there is a huge amount of stuff that goes in to a hotel, whereas offices are far less intrusive on a building like this and, in lots of ways, are better."
Around 80 staff will move in to the building from April and Mr Nelson said it should make impressive headquarters.
"This is part of our ongoing commitment to Derby and we are delighted to have signed a 10-year lease."
The firm is also working out details to allow Mr Blunt to show people around the building to share its history.