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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Death rate boosts funeral profits
Dignity provides funeral plans as well as funerals
Dignity has been buying up funeral homes
An increase in unexpected deaths has helped boost half-yearly profits by a fifth at the UK's largest provider of funeral related services.

Dignity, the UK's only listed funeral firm, said profits rose 19.7% to 15.8m in the six months to July.

It came after the West Midlands-based firm said there was a 1.7% increase in the estimated number of deaths, which was slightly ahead of its expectations.

Some 300,800 people died during the period, up from 295,800 a year earlier.

The group continues to trade well and the board's expectations for the remainder of 2005 remain positive
Richard Connell, Dignity chairman

"The board's view on death rates continues to rely on government forecasts and its view on medium-term death rates remains unchanged," the company said.

Dignity, based in Sutton Coldfield, carried out 36,000 funerals and 21,200 cremations over the period.

It has 516 funeral homes and 22 crematoria and also provides pre-arranged funeral plans. Dignity has bought 10 new funeral homes in the past couple of months and continues to look for "new opportunities".

The Co-operative is the UK's largest provider of funerals, but Dignity is the biggest in funeral-related services as it also offers funeral plans.

Dignity's shares have performed strongly after launching for 230p in April 2004, and were up 0.45% at 391.75 pence in afternoon London trade on Thursday.

"The group continues to trade well and the board's expectations for the remainder of 2005 remain positive," said chairman Richard Connell.

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