Funeral services firm Dignity saw underlying operating profits soar 35 per cent to £26.1m in the first quarter of this year, as there were 43,000 more deaths than in the same weeks last year.
The group’s underlying revenue also grew 14 per cent to £94.7m in the 13 week period ending 26 March as the number of deaths rose 27 per cent to 204,000 from 161,000 in the same period.
On late Friday afternoon, Dignity’s share were trading for £729, an increase of 2.97 per cent throughout the day.
“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,” executive chairman Gary Channon said.
The group sold 571,000 pre-arranged funeral plans, which exceeded its forecasts and was up 13,000 since December 2020.
At the end of the first quarter, the group held around £71m in cash, around £10m less since December due to an additional tax payment.
The group underwent a board shuffle at the end of April, following a vote on a proposal by Phoenix Asset Management Partners, the group’s largest shareholder.
Clive Whiley was ousted from the helm as director as Gary Channon was appointed as executive chairman.
“This wholly unnecessary act came at a time when the board had been making considerable progress towards the completion of the previously announced root-and-branch review which, since mid-December 2020, has involved an extensive collaborative approach with Phoenix – something which the independent directors welcomed and believed was likely to provide significant benefits to the group,” Dignity said in a statement at the time.
Chief financial officer Dean Moore is set to continue serving as director for his three-month notice period.
Non-executive directors Gillian Kent, Dean Moore and Paul Humphreys, all resigned from the board. Meanwhile, non-executive director James Wilson also stepped down from the group to ensure there was at least one director from Phoenix.