High death rate boosts Dignity’s numbers

SUTTON Coldfield funeral services group Dignity has seen both its revenue and profit surge, largely as a result of a high death rate.

In a first quarter trading update the firm, the UK’s only listed funeral services provider, revealed revenue for the 13 week period to March 27 was £85.5m, a 23.7% increase on the corresponding period last year.

Its underlying operating profit was up by 38.8%, from £25.8m last year to £35.8m this.

The firm’s business has markedly increased as a result of a sharp increase in the number of deaths in the period. Some 175,000 people died in the first quarter, a 19% increase on the 147,000 deaths in the corresponding period last year.

However,  Dignity points out that data from previous years indicates that large variances in the number of deaths at the end of the first quarter tend to normalise by the end of the year.
Its current assumption is that the number of deaths in 2015 will be broadly flat on the previous year.

Dignity said average incomes continue to be robust and overheads well controlled. Its overall expectations for the year are positive and unchanged.
The group has acquired ten funeral locations since the start of the year, for an investment of approximately £8m.
Chief executive Mike McCollum said: “The year has started very strongly compared to a weak first quarter last year.

“Our client surveys confirm that even though the business is very busy, service levels remain extremely high thanks to the continued dedication of our employees.”