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Dignity funeral service profits up, outlook good

Britain's only listed funeral-services company, Dignity Plc, posted a 17% rise in pretax profits to Ł35.4 million ($49 million) and said its outlook for 2009 was positive.

Reporting a 9.0% rise in operating profit to Ł52.1 million, the firm said its funeral division had performed well and margins continued to expand.

“This is another strong set of results with earnings per share increasing 14%,” Mike McCollum, chief executive of Dignity, said in a statement.

“All three business areas continue to perform well in the first quarter of 2009 and the outlook remains positive.”

Dignity, which owns several hundred funeral locations and crematoria around Britain, said it had acquired 9 new funeral locations, including 6 Northern Ireland, and taken on another 7 crematoria, some of which were being leased to third parties.

It said its crematoria division has performed well despite pressure on costs, and unfulfilled pre-arranged funeral plans increased to 204,000 by the end of 2008.

Dignity said its strategy of providing a compassionate service to bereaved people at a sad time had proved consistent and effective

“The result of this focus is that over 70% of our business is generated by previous experience, recommendation and reputation,” it said in a statement. (Reuters)