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09 Nov 2020 | 09:10

Dignity profit falls despite more funerals during crisis

(Sharecast News) - Dignity's profit fell in the first nine months of 2020 despite the company carrying out almost 10,000 more funerals during the Covid-19 crisis as costs rose. The funeral operator also said it had shelved its search for a new chief executive while it waits for a regulatory report.

Underlying operating profit fell 8% to £44.2m in the nine months to the end of September a year earlier as revenue rose 4% to £234.5m. Group expenses rose to £26.8m from £22.5m and Dignity said it had identified £8m of cost cuts.

The number of UK deaths rose 15% to 498,000 in the first nine months of the year as Covid-19 spread through the population. Dignity conducted 61,700 funerals - up from 52,100 a year earlier.

The UK's competition regulator pulled back from imposing price controls on the funeral industry in August because of disruption created by the coronavirus crisis. The Competition and Markets Authority is due to publish its final report in July. Prepaid funeral plans will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Dignity said it had deferred its search for a new boss while it carries out its strategic review and waits for the CMA's final report. Executive Chairman Clive Whiley will stay in charge until then.

Whiley said: "I am pleased with the progress Dignity has made in my first year as chairman. We still have a long way to go and the strategic review will take time to ensure we are prepared for every eventuality."

Dignity shares rose 0.5% to 558p at 09:41 GMT.

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