Dignity turnover rose as deaths increased

Funerals group Dignity saw turnover and profits rise in the first 13 weeks of its financial year.

Dignity performed 23,800 funerals in the first 13 weeks of the year
Dignity performed 23,800 funerals in the first 13 weeks of the year

Underlying revenue was up 14 per cent to £94.7 million from 83.1m a year before for the period to March 26.

Operating profits rose 35 per cent from £19.4m to £26.1m.

The number of UK deaths increased by approximately 27 per cent to 204,000 from 161,000 in the comparative period last year as a result of Covid-19. Since the end of the quarter, the UK has witnessed deaths falling below the five year average.

Sutton Coldfield-based Dignity has 831 funeral locations including in the Black Country, Shropshire and Staffordshire.

It also operates 46 crematoria including at Lichfield, Stourport, Telford and Shrewsbury.

The latest figures comes after a boardroom coup, which saw Clive Whiley ousted from the firm and Gary Channon appointed as executive chairman.

Operating performance in the first quarter was above the board's expectations as a result of the significantly higher than expected number of deaths. Funeral market share and average revenue were below expectations.

The group performed 23,800 funerals in the first 13 weeks of the year and conducted 22,600 cremations.

Sales of pre-arranged funeral plans exceeded expectations in the first quarter. Active pre-arranged funeral plans rowe from 558,000 at the end of December to 571,000.

Mr Channon said: "As the limits on mourner numbers begin to ease, we expect to see a change in the services we are able to offer bereaved people and look forward to helping those who have lost someone say goodbye in a personal and meaningful way.

"On April 12, I laid out my vision for Dignity which contained a number of potential actions aimed at securing Dignity's future and building a better business for bereaved people, our staff and our partners. As we navigate out of the pandemic, and in light of regulatory changes in our industry, our hope is to lead positive change in our sector and become the true market leader with an unrivalled focus on quality, standards and choice. We are working hard on this plan and look forward to presenting it to shareholders at our AGM on June 23.

"I would like to thank all of our employees for their hard work and dedication over the last year in the most challenging of circumstances, and look forward to working alongside them as we move into Dignity's next phase of growth together. In addition, we have commenced a process to recruit a new independent chairman and non-executive directors to help steer the strategic direction of Dignity's bright future. We will provide an update on appointments made in due course."

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