Sutton Coldfield funeral services firm Dignity has revealed a rise in profits after its strongest year for the number of families planning ahead for a death.
Dignity, which has 600 funeral locations including 35 crematoria, said the number of pre-arranged funeral plans on its books and yet to take place increased to 265,000 in 2011, from 238,000 the previous year.
The group, which last year held 62,300 funerals, allows customers to plan a funeral in advance and make provisions towards the cost through its Dignity Guaranteed Funeral Plan.
Dignity said underlying pre-tax profits increased by 3% to £41.6 million in the year to December 30, as it increased its location portfolio by 33 in the year.
Sebastien Jantet, analyst at broker Investec, said Dignity had delivered “yet another set of strong results”. He added: “The highlights were a strong performance from the pre-arranged funerals division.”
The Sutton Coldfield-based group said its funeral services division, which brings in the largest proportion of profits, had received investment of around £9.5 million, with roughly half of this funding the replacement of its hearses and limousines.
The group’s crematoria division saw operating profits increase 7% to £21.3 million as it conducted 47,600 cremations, compared to 45,200 the previous year.
The group completed the construction of two crematoria in Somerset and Worcestershire in the period, while work continues on a new crematorium in Essex. The group is also the preferred bidder to operate Haringey Council’s crematorium, in North London.
Looking ahead, Mike McCollum, Dignity chief executive, said: “While 2012 has started more quietly than 2011, the board remains confident in the group’s prospects and its expectations for 2012 remain positive and unchanged.”