Revenue at funerals firm Dignity nudged up in the first quarter, helped by a higher death rate and a better-than-expected take-up of premium services.
The under-pressure group, which has been embroiled in a price war, booked sales of £95.1 million in the 13 weeks to March 30, up from £93.3 million last year.
Dignity reported earnings of £37.5 million, in line with the previous year, but well ahead of what the board had pencilled in.
The figures come as the absolute number of deaths increased by 8% to 181,000, with Dignity forecasting that the full year will record “at least” the same number of deaths as last year, which was 590,000.
Earlier in 2018, Dignity warned that it was seeing lower-than-expected take-up of its “no frills” funeral option, despite slashing prices.
But the firm has since said that “simple funerals” only account for 15% of all funerals, lower than the 20% originally anticipated, indicating demand is still strong for its premium option.
The firm performed a total of 21,400 funerals in the quarter, up from 20,100.
But chief executive Mike McCollum struck a cautious note.
“While the first quarter produced a much stronger result than we had anticipated when implementing the price changes in January, the current year is all about completing our review of our funeral business and ensuring we provide the excellent service our clients expect from us.”