Funeral Company Dignity Prioritized Shareholder Profits Over Product Quality, Claims Potential Buyer

Funeral Company Dignity Prioritized Shareholder Profits Over Product Quality, Claims Potential Buyer

...By Henry George for TDPel Media.

UK funeral company Dignity is being accused by a man attempting to take over the company, of pushing its rising prices to its shareholders instead of investing in improving its products.

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Gary Channon, whose consortium made an offer for Dignity in January, said the staff at the company’s branches started referring customers to competitors due to the high prices.

Despite some falls in recent years, the cost of a basic funeral has more than doubled from £1,835 in 2004 to £3,953 in 2022.

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Mr Channon, who was Dignity’s chief executive between April 2021 and May 2022, said people are not keen to shop around when arranging a funeral for a loved one.

Mr Channon said Dignity did not use the extra money that they were able to charge customers to invest in their business, but instead went to their shareholders.

“At the heart of the strategy was a belief that you could raise prices faster than inflation, without investing in the proposition and you wouldn’t lose as much volume as you gained in value,” he added.

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When Dignity bought an independent funeral director, it often saw declining business, but the higher price more than made up for this.

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Between purchasing the business and today, the average number of funerals that each site performs has halved, Mr Channon said.

The current strategy for Dignity includes reducing prices and offering cheaper direct cremations without a service at the crematorium.

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Under new ownership, Dignity will continue with this strategy.

Being in private hands would make it easier to make decisions that can benefit the company, he added.

Last Friday, the consortium of bidders for Dignity, including Mr Channon’s Phoenix Asset Management Partners, had acquired or had offers accepted for more than 75% of the voting shares in Dignity.

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