Funerals firm Dignity £68m in the red after debt deals and paybacks

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The company, which conducted 65,600 funerals last year, said it decided to take advantage of low interest rates by raising almost £600 million, which it used to pay off outstanding debt and bolster its pension scheme.

Some £64.4 million of the money was also returned to shareholders.

Dignity said the 35-year debt deal means the company’s annual interest payments on its debt have fallen to £33 million compared to £40 million —  although it was hit by a one-off cost of £102.6 million.

Dignity can trace its roots back more than 200 years, although the current company was created through the merger of Plantsbrook and Great Southern in 1994.

Funeral parlours acquired by the group organised the burials of Winston Churchill and one of the Kray twins. 

The company said the number of registered deaths was up 23% in the UK during the first eight weeks of the year.

Chief executive Mike McCollum said: “The group has continued to perform strongly, delivering operational performance ahead of consensus estimates. .”

Its shares rose 25.5p to 1946.5p.

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March 4, 2015 |
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