Former Bibby HQ to become SME business hub

CERT Property is transforming a building in Liverpool city centre, that was home to the city’s first-ever public library and was the HQ for Bibby, into a hub for SMEs. Tony McDonough reports

Duke Street
Duke & Parr in Liverpool is to become a hub for SMEs. Picture by McCoy Wynne


A historic building in Liverpool city centre that housed the city’s first-ever public library is to become a small business hub.

Located on the corner of Duke Street and Parr Street Liverpool’s Ropewalks district, the 57,000 sq building was built in 1807. Until late 2019 it was the headquarters of one of Liverpool’s oldest businesses, Bibby Line Group.

Bibby relocated its staff to Exchange Flags in the commercial district and sold the Duke Street site to CERT Property. Now CERT has renamed the building Duke & Parr and has set about a compressive refurbishment.

Alongside providing office spaces for companies to occupy and make their own, the building will provide nearly 4,000 sq ft of communal space across a grand reception, lounge, sitting room, atrium and beautiful wood-panelled boardroom.

The building, for which interiors specialist Sheila Bird is delivering the branding and design, will give tenants the opportunity to choose from a variety of units, from compact studio spaces to larger floorplates of up to 25,000 sq ft.

In addition to the main office suites, the building is also home to 35 music production and recording studios, split over two basement floors. Howard Lord, founder of CERT Property, said: “As we know, we’ve all changed how – and where – we work over the last year, with many of us communicating and working together in a very different way.

“But, as we begin to enter the next stage of the new normality, businesses are looking at exactly what type of workspace their staff should be returning to. While many have embraced the perks of remote working, there really is no substitute for face-to-face connections and in-person teamwork.

“We know that every company will have their own specific must-haves for a workspace and no two companies will have the same requirements, which is why we want to offer a blank canvas, but still providing the key fundamentals.

“There is no single sector that will set up here, as we want different industries to be able to collaborate and tap into each other’s expertise, with a strong community feel as that’s definitely something we’ve all missed while working from home.”

Duke & Parr is steeped in history, having originally been the city’s first public library, then home to the Union newspaper and, later, home to Bibby, a maritime, financial services and infrastructure giant.

Among CERT’s refurbishment work is a commitment to restoring some of the building’s unique features, such as its original cornicing and parquet flooring, long hidden behind suspended ceilings and false walls.

Building work is set to complete in the summer, with and a number of tenants in the leisure, tech and creative industries already in discussion for occupation from September. Howard added: “We have had an unwavering ambition to restore this building to its former glory and not even a pandemic has stopped us from following through with that vision.”

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