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Funerals group Dignity reports rising revenues and profit

Funeral operator Dignity has reported rising revenues and profit in the first quarter after an increase in the death rate boosted income.

The group said revenue rose 15% to £93.3 million in the 13 weeks to March 31, while underlying profit grew 20% to £37.4 million.

The death rate for the period was 167,000, up 7%.

Dignity said in a trading update: "As anticipated at the time of the group's 2016 preliminary results published in March, the number of deaths in the first quarter was higher than the previous year, but lower than in 2015.

"Data from previous years indicates that large variances in the number of deaths at the end of the first quarter tend to normalise by the end of the year. The group's current assumption continues to be that the number of deaths in 2017 will be lower than 2016."

Dignity, which acquired five crematoria from the Co-operative Group last year, said acquisition activity in the period continued, with the group buying up 12 funeral locations and one small crematorium for £20 million.

Boss Mike McCollum said: "This has been a strong start to the year, with all parts of the business performing well. The Group's expectations for the full year remain positive and unchanged."

Dignity said its overall expectations for the year are "positive and remain unchanged".

Shares in the funeral firm rose over 6% to 2,692p in mid-session trading.

Charles Hall, analyst at Peel Hunt, said: "Dignity has demonstrated a strong long-term performance. Individual quarters can be volatile due to the death rate in that quarter, however, a longer viewpoint shows a pretty consistent track record.

"This has been delivered through consistent price rises and acquisitions, to offset loss of market share."

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