Business News

‘Extraordinary’ death rates boosting this firm

British funeral firm Dignity reported a spike in profits Wednesday after an "almost unprecedented" rise in U.K. deaths last year at rates not seen since 1952.

Writing in the annual earnings report, Dignity Chairman Peter Hindley called it an "extraordinary year" resulting in higher than expected funeral and cremation volumes that helped push revenues up by 14 percent to £305 million ($427 million).

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Operating profits jumped by 15 percent to £95.5 million ($133 million), aiding a 10 percent increase to a final dividend of 14.31 pence for shareholders.

Preliminary figures aggregated from the Office for National Statistics show a 6.5 percent rise in U.K. deaths in 2015 to 588,000 from 550,000 a year earlier, Dignity reported.

That rate of change hasn't been seen for over 60 years, while a change of more than 5 percent hasn't been seen in over 40 years.

CEO Mike McCollum said it was "almost unprecedented."

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However, the boom is likely to be short-lived, with the firm expecting the number of deaths in 2016 to fall to 2014 levels.

It's not yet clear whether the rise in deaths were linked to age, illness, or accidents, and it will be months until those details become clear.

The Office for National Statistics won't be releasing its 2015 report on U.K. deaths until later this summer.

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