Dignity plc

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Dignity is one of the largest providers of funeral-related services in the UK, head-quartered in Sutton Coldfield. Its network consists of successful businesses it has acquired. The company operates through 3 segments:

  1. Funeral services: the provision of funerals and ancillary items, such as memorials and floral tributes.
  2. Crematoria: cremation services and the sale of memorials and burial plots at the company-operated crematoria and cemeteries.
  3. Pre-paid funeral plans: the sale of funerals in advance to customers wishing to make their own funeral arrangements, and the marketing and administration costs associated with the sales.

The company operates a network of ~830 funeral locations throughout the UK, trading under established local trading names. It operates ~46 crematoria in England and Scotland. The number of active funeral plans is approximately 486,000. The company accounts for 11.9% of all funeral services and 10.9% of cremations in the UK. The funeral division is their biggest division, and accounts for 70% of total sales.
The group announced in early 2019 that it will be changing its name "to remove confusion between our trading brands and our corporate profile".[1]

Company

Shareholders

Total Float: 80.1%
Source: MarketScreener.svg, Mar.2020

Structure

ToDo: Reports. See p.147 for list of acquisitions, all dormant.
  • Dignity plc
    • Dignity Holdings No.3 Ltd, intermediate holdco, CH
      • Dignity Funerals No.3 Ltd, Funeral services, CH
        • See p.24 for list of subsidiaries.
    • Dignity (2008) Ltd, intermediate holdco, CH
      • Dignity Crematoria Ltd, construction and leasing of crematoria, CH
        • Dignity Crematoria No.2 Ltd, construction and leasing of crematoria to Dignity Funerals Ltd, CH
    • Dignity (2011) Ltd, intermediate holdco, CH
      • 1%, Pitcher & Le Quesne Ltd, Funeral services, reg. Jersey Flag-Jersey.svg
      • 23.8%, Funeral Zone Ltd, online resource for funeral directors and clients, CH, Website
      • Funeral Arrangements Online Ltd, CH
    • Dignity (2004) Ltd, intermediate holdco, CH
      • Dignity Holdings No.2 Ltd, intermediate holdco, [CH]
        • Dignity Holdings Ltd, intermediate holdco, CH
          • Dignity Mezzco Ltd, finance company, CH
      • Dignity (2002) Ltd, intermediate holdco, CH
        • Dignity (2014) Ltd, intermediate holdco, CH
          • 99%, Pitcher & Le Quesne Ltd, Funeral services, reg. Jersey Flag-Jersey.svg
          • Dignity Services, intermediate holdco, was SCI, CH
            • Not all directly held subsids are listed here - see p.19
            • Dignity Finance Holdings Ltd, intermediate holdco, [CH]
              • Dignity Finance plc, finance co, provides funds to Dignity (2002) Ltd, CH
            • Dignity Securities Ltd, pre-arranged funeral plans, [CH]
            • Birkbeck Securities Ltd, intermediate holdco, CH
              • Dignity Pre Arrangement Ltd, pre-arranged funeral plans, CH
                • Advance Planning Ltd, pre-arranged funeral plans, CH
              • Dignity Funerals Ltd, funeral services, CH
                • See p.47 for list of subsidiaries.
              • Kenyon Repatriation Ltd, [CH]
              • H Copeland & Son Ltd, [CH]

Timeline

Jun.2016Dignity acquired 5 crematorium sites from Co-op Funeralcare's Funeral Services Ltd, which was exiting the business.[5][6]
Mar.2016 Funeral Arrangements Online Ltd was acquired from its founder, Thomas Henry Harries.ref,ref
Jun.2015Dignity acquired 36 funeral premises from Laurel Funerals Ltd,† leaving Laurel with 47 sites.[7]
Jan.2013Yew Holdings Ltd was acquired, adding 40 funeral businesses and 2 crematoria in the north of England.[8][9]
2008Middleton & Wood of Burntwood was acquired. Three branches were acquired in Belfast.ref
Apr.2004
Montagu-Private-Equity.svgDeals-Arrow-Right.svg
Dignity plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange. The listing raised £113m, which was used to repay expensive debt, leaving the securitised notes as the only long-term debt held by the company. At the time of admission and in the subsequent couple of months Montagu disposed of its entire shareholding in Dignity plc.[10]
Dec.2002The original funding of the management buyout was refinanced by JP Morgan Chase Bank in anticipation of a whole business securitisation. The securitisation was completed in Apr.2003.
Feb.2002
Montagu-Private-Equity.svgDeals-All-Change.svg
The business was the subject of a management buyout, headed by Peter Hindley (CEO) and Mike McCollum (CFO), and backed by Montagu Private Equity Ltd.[11][12]CH Dignity (2002) Ltd[13] acquired 100% of Dignity. In Apr.2002, Dignity changed its name to Dignity Services.
Sept.2001Service Corporation International changed its name to Dignity.Dec.2001
Dec.2000Service Corporation International plc deregistered from its public limited company status; a week later it deregistered its private limited company status, and became an unlimited company known as Service Corporation International. During the year, the compay disposed of its Northern Ireland businesses.AR-Dec.2000
2000Poor market conditions forced SCI to reevaluate operations. The company decided to divest many of its non-USA businesses.
Dec.1994The Competition Commission looked into the merger of Plantsbrook and Great Southern, which had increased SCI's share of funeral directing services from ~20% to ~28%. SCI was required to reduce its market share to ≤25% by divesting certain businesses. Additionally, SCI was required to undertake not to acquire any funeral directing business within certain areas.[14]
Sept.1994SCI's UK subsidiary Service Corporation International plc[] acquired Plantsbrook Group plc, which had ~8.7% of the UK market. Plantsbrook's business was transferred to Family Funeral Directors Ltd,[15]; it was delisted in Jan.1995 and ceased to trade.[AR-1994]
Aug.1994Service Corporation International acquired Great Southern Group plc,[16] (including JD Field & Sons Ltd), which had ~4.0% of the UK market.
Feb.1994SCI established a UK subsidiary, Service Corporation International plc.CH, May.1994
Sources: History Dignity plc. Accessed May.10.2019.
† Laurel Funerals Ltd[17] was acquired by the Funeral Services Partnership LtdCH in Jul.2015;[18] itself acquired by Montagu Private Equity LLP Flag-Tax-Haven-v2.svg in May.2016.[19]

Service Corporation International

Service Corporation International is an American provider of funeral goods and services, as well as cemetery property and services. It is headquartered in Houston, Texas.

SCI's network of funeral homes consists almost entirely of existing businesses that the company has acquired. SCI tends to buy successful funeral homes that are firmly settled and already well known in their community. SCI then retains the funeral home's original name, often along with former owners who are kept on as management. A typical SCI-owned funeral home will not contain adverts or SCI logos. Consequently, most consumers are unfamiliar with the company itself. Instead, SCI places strong emphasis on their Dignity Memorial brand. The "Dignity" logo can be seen throughout SCI's funeral homes and cemeteries, on staff, signage, paperwork, vehicles, etc.
SCI don't seem to be very popular, according to the US Funeral Watchdog blog :(

Articles

  • May.15.2018: Dignity not ready to breathe sigh of relief just yet. Dignity said that its revenues had risen by 2% to £95.1m in the 13 weeks to March 30 compared with a year earlier and that underlying operating profits were flat at £37.5m, boosted by executives waiving last year’s bonus. The figures, which had been flagged in a statement last month, were better than Dignity had feared when it announced price cuts in January, a response to intensifying competition and an apparent shift in consumer sentiment. Dignity competes with the likes of Co-op Funeralcare and trades under local family names. The Sutton Coldfield-based company has expanded by buying up funeral directors. It has about 800 branches and conducted about 68,000 funerals last year. Price comparison sites and limited regulation of the industry have created a price war among funeral providers. Dignity’s first quarter was boosted by an 8% rise in the number of deaths to 181,000 and a lower uptake than expected of its cheaper “simple” funerals. Mike McCollum, chief executive, said that the first quarter had produced a “much stronger result than we had anticipated”. Alex Ralph, The Times.