Preliminary results for the 53 week period ended 30 December 2016

Dignity plc (Dignity or the Group), the UK’s only listed provider of funeral related services, announces its preliminary results for the 53 week period ended 30 December 2016.

Financial highlights 53 week Period ended 30 December 2016 52 week Period ended 25 December 2015 Increase / (decrease) per cent
Revenue (£million) 313.6 305.3 3
Underlying operating profit(a) (£million) 101.7 98.7 3
Underlying profit before tax(a) (£million) 75.2 72.2 4
Underlying earnings per share(b) (pence) 119.8 114.8 4
Cash generated from operations(c) (£million) 121.1 125.2 (3)
Operating profit (£million) 97.7 95.5 2
Profit before tax (£million) 71.2 69.0 3
Basic earnings per share (pence) 115.3 115.2 -
Interim dividend paid in the period(d) (pence) 7.85 7.14 10
Final dividend proposed in respect of the period(e) (pence) 15.74 14.31 10
Deaths 590,000 588,000 -

Non-GAAP measures

The Board believes that whilst statutory reporting measures provide a useful indication of the financial performance of the Group, additional insight is gained by excluding certain non-recurring or non-trading transactions. These measures are defined as follows:

(a) Underlying profit is calculated as profit excluding profit (or loss) on sale of fixed assets and external transaction costs.

(b) Underlying earnings per share is calculated as profit on ordinary activities after taxation, before profit (or loss) on sale of fixed assets and external transaction costs and exceptional items (all net of tax), divided by the weighted average number of Ordinary Shares in issue in the period.

(c) Cash generated from operations excludes external transaction costs.

Other notes

(d) Interim dividend represents the interim dividend that was declared and paid in the period out of earnings generated in the same period.

(e) The 2016 final dividend is the proposed dividend expected to be approved at the annual general meeting on 8 June 2017. The 2015 final dividend is the dividend approved for payment by shareholders at the annual general meeting on 9 June 2016.

Key points

  • Financial performance better than expected at the start of the year, as guided in November 2016;
  • Deaths broadly flat at 590,000 (2015: 588,000) and higher than originally anticipated;
  • Funeral market share decline is larger than seen before, which follows better market share than anticipated in 2015;
  • Focus remains on customer service, which continues to be high, with 98 per cent of clients saying they would recommend us;
  • Portfolio expanded through the acquisition of a total of 16 funeral locations and five crematoria in the period;
  • Total acquisition activity investment of £56 million (net of cash acquired) funded from existing cash resources;
  • Satellite location programme ongoing with 11 locations opened in the year;
  • Since the last trading update, the Group has obtained planning permission for a third new crematorium. They are all due to open in 2018/ 2019;
  • Another good year of pre-arranged funeral plan sales, with active pre-arranged funeral plans increasing to 404,000 (2015: 374,000), helped by trust and insurance based sales;
  • Starting to see potential opportunities from the use of digital technologies; and
  • The Group has acquired three funeral locations and one small crematorium since the balance sheet date.


The number of deaths has been higher in 2016 than the Group originally anticipated following a significant increase in the number of deaths in 2015. Historical data would suggest that deaths in 2017 could be significantly lower than 2015 and 2016. Trading in the first few weeks of 2017 has however continued to be strong. As a result, the Board’s expectations are unchanged for the year ahead.

The Board remains positive about the future prospects for the Group. However, given the increased size of the Group and increasing competition in each of our markets, the Board has revised its medium-term target underlying EPS growth rate to eight per cent per annum from the current 10 per cent. As with the previous target, this objective includes the benefit of the reinvestment of cash generated by the business and the Group’s ability to releverage its balance sheet either to fund acquisitions or return capital to shareholders.

Mike McCollum, Chief Executive of Dignity plc commented:

"I am pleased with our financial and operational performance in the period. Our business has responded well to the needs of our customers, maintaining the high standards we set ourselves.

Looking into the future, we anticipate further engagement with the Scottish and Westminster parliaments, as we believe regulation of the funeral and pre-arranged funeral markets is necessary to ensure every family receives minimum standards of care from appropriate facilities. We also expect to invest more in digital technologies that will help our clients and also act as a source of new business for the Group."

For more information

Mike McCollum, Chief Executive
Steve Whittern, Finance Director
Dignity plc +44 (0) 207 466 5000

Richard Oldworth
Catriona Flint
Buchanan +44 (0) 207 466 5000

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