THE UK’S only listed funeral provider yesterday said a low death rate at the start of the year had caused a slowdown in trading, though revenues and profits had still risen.
Dignity, which famously buried Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, said 7.5 per cent fewer people died in Britain between January and March, which meant slower trade for the firm.
Revenues rose 1.9 per cent to £69.1m, nonetheless, and underlying operating profit rose 1.6 per cent to £25.8m.
“As anticipated, the year has started slowly compared to a strong first quarter last year. However, with the exception of the low volumes in the first quarter, the group’s businesses are performing well and in line with management’s expectations,” chief executive Mike McCollum said.
The company forecasts that 550,000 people will die in the UK this year, about two per cent lower than last year and in line with the death rate in 2012.
Dignity has also been busy on the acquisition front during the quarter and yesterday announced it had bought eight new funeral locations and two satellite venues since the turn of the year.
Last year displayed an unusually high death rate, according to the figures, with deaths in the first quarter of 2013 being 6.7 per cent higher than the prior period.