Increase in deaths pushes Dignity profits higher

Dignity, the listed provider of funeral services that has its roots in Glasgow, today said that an increase in deaths during the first half of the year helped its profits jump by a fifth.

The firm, which runs 685 funeral parlours across the UK, said its operating performance “has been assisted” by a 5.6 per cent in the number of deaths compared with last year.

Business has also been boosted by the acquisition at the start of the year of Yorkshire-based rival Yew Holdings, which added 40 locations.

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Underlying pre-tax profits for the six months to 28 June surged to £33.1 million, from £27.5m a year earlier, on revenues 14.3 per cent higher at £133.2m.

No interim dividend was declared, because Dignity is planning to return £61.9m to shareholders, equating to 108p per ordinary share.

Chief executive Mike McCollum said: “The first half of 2013 has seen a strong operating performance from our established operations and our largest single acquisition. Since the period end, we have announced a proposed third return of cash since flotation.

“The group remains on track to achieve the board’s expectations for the full year.”