The view below the radar

Charles 2 Comments

An article in the Times dated 15 July, based on an interview with Mike McCollum, ceo of Dignity plc, offers one or two (no more) features of interest.

His definition of an undertaker?

“We’re event organisers,” says McCollum. “We arrange a family event for you on very short notice, which you wish you didn’t have to arrange.”

He adds:

“And, on the day of the funeral, we’re the master of ceremonies. The funeral director makes sure everything goes exactly to plan, to the second, and hopefully makes sure everybody, in an unfamiliar situation, knows where to sit and where to go.”

He doesn’t say if he regards this model as eternal, nor whether he is aware of trends towards empowered mourners who take a different view of the brief of a funeral event planner.

Concerning the travails of his reassuringly inept rivals, ‘Co-operative’ Funeralcare, he is defensive of the hub model and reckons “it’s time people accepted some home truths”.

“The definition of a mortuary is a place where dead people are kept. When people die and they can be in different conditions. You need specialist refrigeration, specialist conditions. You’d expect them to be clinical, to use stainless steel equipment, to be easy to clean. They’re not necessarily going to be nice places to be.”


By way of assuring Times readers who are also Dignity shareholders, the article points out that Dignity’s market capitalisation has risen from £180m to £446m and the share price from 230p to 810p. The writer does not detect the present injurious effect of underfunded funeral plans. Nor does he point out Dignity’s Achilles heel, its high prices, vulnerable, in an increasingly price-conscious market, to consumer scrutiny. Nor does he question Dignity’s policy of brand omerta, a remarkable stance for an outfit in the event-planning business.

Would you buy shares in Dignity?

Source (paywalled)


  1. Charles

    Dignity seem a very confident company.

    Did you know they were created by a Lehman Bros fundraising? It was a great success for Lehman’s – but look what t subsequently happened to them!

    I believe Dignity are always vulnerable to good local lower cost funeral directors and ex employee start-ups.

    Their early pre-paid plans were sold and bought for just a few hundred pounds. I have no idea how they cope with them!

    I certainly wouldn’t buy their shares.

  2. Charles

    and I certainly wouldn’t buy into them either

    simply because, I cannot see where the growth will come from long term, Mike M is forever coming out with these pr statements (as one would expect) but their prices are cost prohibitive

    clearly the Crem operating market is big for them but they’re not the only ‘non-Local Authority’ player here

    to me, they’re very similar to JD Wetherspoon, they’ve both become very large but I cannot see where JD’s are going either


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