New sites help Dignity post a rise in profits

 
Marion Dakers
DIGNITY, the UK’s only listed funeral provider, yesterday posted a 13 per cent rise in annual profits and pointed to further growth in the coming year.

The firm said revenues rose nine per cent to £229.6m, helping deliver pre-tax profits of £45.4m, in line with analyst forecasts.

Dignity said the average income per funeral rose slightly, in spite of the gloomy economy, though its margins fell 30 basis points to 34.3 per cent as it spent money on 18 new sites and a further 19 openings.

The overall death rate in the UK also increased by 2.2 per cent to 551,000 in 2012.

During the period, Dignity conducted 63,200 funerals, up from 62,300 a year ago. The firm estimates that it has a 11.2 per cent share of the UK market.

Its pre-arranged funeral packages are proving popular, with 40,000 sold last year to take the total number of unfulfilled plans to 290,000.

“Client satisfaction remains exceptionally high, underlying operating profits increased eight per cent and underlying earnings per share increased 14 per cent,” said chief executive Mike McCollum.

“Each operating division has made good progress in the year and is well placed for the future.”

The board’s outlook for the year remains positive, after raising the annual dividend by 10 per cent to 10.75p.

“A shareholder who invested at the time of our flotation in 2004 has received their entire initial investment back in cash and still has a shareholding worth approximately three and a half times that initial investment,” the firm said in its results statement.