Statement from Phillip Greenfield Funeral Partners

Charles Cowling

Phillip Greenfield, Chief Executive of Funeral Partners and owners of Gillman’s Funeral Directors who featured in last night’s Exposure programme of ‘The British Way of Death’ has made a video statement of the company’s response to the revelations.

The full text of what he says can be found on the Funeral Partners website here.

Two exposures of bad practice in the funeral industry in three months. The deeply shocking and utterly despicable behaviour of Gillman’s staff present a very specific issue, but we believe the two programmes expose the failure of two different versions of the corporatised funeral business, where the balance between service and profit has been lost.

When Funeralcare was exposed we made an offer to George Tinning to talk to and work with the Co-op to help them look again at customer service in their business and publicise their planned improvements.

We repeat the offer here to Funeral Partners: a great many people visit this website, this blog in particular. Doubtless you will, in the coming weeks and months, wish to get messages out to consumers which will restore their faith in Funeral Partners. We should be very happy to publicise these for you.

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Stephen Campbell
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Stephen Campbell

02:54 Yes I agree as an Independent funeral director I honestly believe that this program has done nothing but agitate suspicion. Yes I agree there where a few issues surrounding the office staff, there was no excuse for her dishonesty. However I think where the MD of Funeral Care went a bit wrong was fact that he skirted round the issue of the hub operation. Let me point out some facts. Coffins: Are we to close every coffin factory in the UK because the coffins have been stacked. Let me tell you all in most proper coffin setups, they are… Read more »

k thomas
Guest
k thomas

I am glad my family showed me the documentary on ipad last night and i was able to evaluate the above comments. Having lost various family and friends in the past few years . I felt disgusted and trauamatised by the staff perception/ beliefs, ideology through out the programme. pakis and vadgy, chelsea scum, m&s bags, greenfield and other are aloof in relations to how his staff treated the deceased and thier families. being of afro-caribbean ( racist/ neglect/ lack etiquitte) descent i could relate to the lady who piad £11,000. We will ensure to use afro- caribbean undertakers in… Read more »

Paul Hensby
Guest

Well, a quick scroll down revealed some interesting facts, but none as shocking than the non participation of the wretched Philip Greenfield. What can we do to make FPL, Dignity and Cooperative Funeralcare take responsibility for appalling standards of behaviour and dreadful attitudes of members of their staffs?

Clare VW Brookes
Guest

to Anon, (and everyone else) I was interested in what you said about the additional charge to hire the horses, it’s not just horses of course that there is a surcharge on. That’s why suppliers often offer a trade price. Credit to you for not adding to the burden of costs. However the worst case of this ripping off I have personally come across was actually an independent FD. A young man had died at a VW festival and had seen our cars in the show and shine display and said to his pal if anything happens to me I… Read more »

John jones
Guest
John jones

I read this with interest. I went to a funeral recently wherein a Horse hearse was employed. The weather was a bit rough, very wet and windy. The Horse hearse owner/operator told the undertaker that they were not prepared to do the service because of the weather and safety issues…it wasn’t that bad a day. The undertaker asked the horse person if they were going to cancel their fee as well as their services, they would not becaue they had travelled over 100 miles in their 2 HGV’s to get to the point of service. They would only reduce their… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Hello John a woeful tale as Charles mentioned ‘Horse drawn hearses’ are pretty popular these days even when the additional costs are factored in and I recall a conversation with an excellent F/D, one of those recommeneded on this site, who said categorically (and rightly so, imo) that whenever it’s the four legged form of transport, a conventional hearse always goes too, should the horse(s) go lame etc. That’s even when they use what is probably the best known firm of Carriage Masters in the UK So whenever I’m out and about and see the horses pulling the hearse, that… Read more »

Clare VW Brookes
Guest

I would love to see some of these big corporates on the TV show Undercover Boss but very much doubt they would ever wish to deliberately disclose some of the behind the scenes goings on. Forget ‘hubs’ for a minute, how lovely would it be to show the ‘unsung heros’ of the funeral trade too those that sit daily with the grieving handing the tissues to the snotty bleery eyed mourners and listening to pensioners who are fondly talking of their life lived together with this person who has died. Come on if Ann Summers can do it why can’t… Read more »

Frank
Guest
Frank

Charles as little FD’s we appreciate your blog….FPL? are you in their bed?

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Frank

pending Charles’ reply, you’re way off the pace here

andrew

Nick Gandon
Guest

Not to chuck too many tacky irons into the fire, I personally telephoned Messrs Gillman & Co around 15 months ago in order to commend a client to them.

I knew that Rodger had departed from the firm, and I asked the female receptionist that answered my call whether Rodger had “sold the firm”.

No. the reply was that “Gillmans’s have merged, not sold out”.

Talk about misrepresentation?

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Hi Nick

imo, it isn’t just that, it’s what appears on the FPL individually owned form’s websites, that’s also an issue. Here’s part of what appears:-

“………Family-orientated funeral directors of distinction….”

err………….. and again imo the wording ‘Family-orientated’ should definitely be dropped and pdq

regards

andrew

Nick Gandon
Guest

Clever wording Andrew, but perfectly “legal”.

Reminds me of a case some years ago when The Co-op took over McKennas (a large multi-branch Lancashire based family firm) without re-branding it.

Outside one branch (or maybe more) was an existing sign saying “Family funeral directors” There was, I recall, a bit of a do about this, as the Co-op refused to change it. Trading standards were involved.

The Co-op sucessfully argued that it actually now meant that as funeral directors, they arranged funerals for families.

Nick

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

thx Nick

similarly very clever, canny chaps these Corporates, so it seems

regards

andrew

Frank
Guest
Frank

the allegations will be confirmed!

Frank
Guest
Frank

Comment suspended until the allegation it contained is verified.

Frank
Guest
Frank

Co op, Dignity, Funeral Partners Limited (a family oriented Funeral Service) Trade under your own group names, if your proud of the service you all provide, then drop the family name you acquired! You will never be able to hold your heads up high if you don’t believe in your own service… as an independent family owned and orientated funeral service, in every possible way….DONT LET US SEE SCENES LIKE THAT AGAIN!

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Frank

The possibility of the Corporates dropping ‘the original trading names’ are almost certainly next to nil

andrew

Frank
Guest
Frank

FPL bought Huntleys in Redditch 5 years ago, their first acquisition, since then they have gone from strength to strength, a portfolio only FAIRWAYS would be proud of. I understand that Fairways sold out to the Co op for a great profit and the former Directors of Fairways Established FPL…is this a magic roundabout?

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Frank

well there’s, fwiw, a little more to this than what you have mentioned

in Surrey and Hampshire, there are quite a few ‘named firms’ who were owned by Fairways but are now part of the FPL organisation, i.e. Woking F/S, Diamond & Son, JL Sturney and AH Rogers

my understanding is, is that for some of these (but not all) there was already a Funeralcare branch in the immediate vicinity, so I assume that they had to be offloaded (to avoid yet more competion issues but of course, not to an independent

regards

andrew

Simon Irons
Guest
Simon Irons

Still a lot of flack being thrown a Dignity and Coop for having hubs or more specifically large hubs, but lets get some perspective here. Many many independent firms operate hubs of some description and some of the larger ones operate quite large hubs, such as Lodge Bros and Lyms ( must have seen refrigeration for at least. 40 on dead good job). So why the mud thrown in the corporate direction only. Does any one know how many “hubs” funeral care have country wide? If they do please post up the number. We do know they do 100,000 funerals… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Simon

I completely agree, there’s no ‘more mileage in the hub’ discussion, unless there are shocking business practices

It should now (all) be about what the client is paying and how this is approached with the client, whether good or bad……..plus of course ‘the transparency of ownership issues’ too

andrew

Vale
Guest
Vale

Before any conspiracy theorist out there asks, ‘how can Charles blog on a programme he hadn’t seen?’, I should ‘fess up that I posted this blog in reaction to the ‘British way of death’. I am sorry if I didn’t sound outraged enough for some of you – I thought words like ‘despicable’ and ‘disgusting’ expressed my reactions as well as I could. In truth I was, like many people, left simply speechless at some of the scenes shown. The issue with the Co-op that makes it stand out is, as Charles has said, that it trades on a reputation… Read more »

Bryan
Guest

I guess it’s time to make some comments since my name has been brought up. I worked for FPL for a year as a consultant doing acquisitions and saw only the highest standards of care and dignity both from the management and the staff. However when I was there they had “only” about 20 branches and it had a very family orientated feel. As I said in my previous post – from the changes I saw at Abbotsfield I had the utmost respect for Phillip and his team. One of the challenges of a growing business is that you loose… Read more »

Ken Davis
Guest
Ken Davis

Hello Bryan
In my discussion with some former Kenyon Emergency team members today, establishing the fraudulent identity of “Nom De Plume ” you were referred to as the Bryan Powell who sold his business in The Midlands, (Coventry, Leamington, was it called Ison or Eason,? ) a few years back. Can this be true ? Did you take the King’s shilling Bryan ?

How much money did you make Bryan ? Tell us do !! Are you now a gamekeeper turned poacher ?

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Ken

It’s common knowledge that Bryan sold Henry Ison to LM, so, sorry it’s not ‘new news’ at all

regards

andrew

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Dear Ken

If you actually verbally used that expression in your conversation, I would be very grateful if the name ‘Plume’ doesn’t appear. Thankyou

I’m sure that you didn’t but felt it important to underline this

regards

andrew

Frank
Guest
Frank

Dave, Charles has yet to watch FPL and Dignity on camera, it should be an interesting blog tomorrow, it was a horror show, a Company ruthless with NO regard of feeling or empathy to the individual or the people who entrusted them. Charles has (if not financial connections) a fondness towards FPL!

Dave Lucas
Guest
Dave Lucas

Frank I agree with Charles (now there is a first) and although I think it odd that there has not been the verification of FPL or Gilmans as there was for Funeralcare I do not think that CC has any connection. In fact as I have pointed put the GFG and the NDC both receive thanks on the ITV website for what can only be assistance in compiling it. It’s interesting that in the runup to this programme we we tempted in the media with Racists comments disrespect of the deceased and appalling facilities and got all ofmthatolus more. With… Read more »

Rupert Callender
Guest
Rupert Callender

Here’s another first David, I agree with you. I find the hub system thoroughly unpleasant, and emblematic of all that is wrong with corporate funeral firms, but the staff forced to use it in the Despatches doc were acting with as much dignity as they could muster under the circumstances. What I really objected to, and think that the Co-op management have succeeded in completely swerving, was the cynical, venal overselling of products to a largely elderly, largely working class customer base who still believe that the Co-op are looking out for them. That, alongside the outrageous margins shown in… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Hello Rupert I currently cannot find one of the pieces that I wrote on Corporate greed in this industry The ITV doc concentrated (as I said yesterday) on the ‘back office facilities’ and not on the sales side but it is abundantly clear how these large organisations are set up in terms of arranging and dividing up their cake and it’s pretty clear that the groundforce backroom team get the smallest proportion, the sales/funeral arrangers will get more and area management (who on the whole probably know little about the profession) a ridiculous amount and then we have the fat… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Dear ‘Dave’ I covered this yesterday (on another thread):- “……In fact as I have pointed put the GFG and the NDC both receive thanks on the ITV website for what can only be assistance in compiling it.In fact as I have pointed put the GFG and the NDC both receive thanks on the ITV website for what can only be assistance in compiling it…..” possibly you had not seen this before posting the above? Let me perhaps underline what I have already said in ‘firmer detail’: When Matthew Maynard’s son Tom accidentally died on the District line tracks earlier this… Read more »

John jones
Guest
John jones

I do not agree that the mortuary shown in the depatches programme about CWS was in any way state of the art. The dead were stacked up to the ceiling without anything to seperate them from exposure to anyone who came into the facility. Unlike the walled and doored facility seen on hospital programmes and cis etc.
A huge COLD ROOM, not a purpose biuilt mortuary store.

Frank
Guest
Frank

I find it quite strange that you have not berated FPL with the same venom as you did with the Co op. Charles is there a reason for this, are you in someway connected business wise with FPL, also I understand Mr. Powell, at one time was employed by FPL! the plot thickens!

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Frank

Charles is a big boy, tall rather than wide and can look after himself and has since replied

You are reading way too much into absolutely nothing

andrew

anon
Guest
anon

Absolutely disgraceful,yet this happens in all large companies, the mark up on coffins is disgusting, yet to whack £100`s of pounds on a horse drawn carriage is daylight robbery, does making a phone call to book it cost £100`s. Im an independent funeral director, we dont charge extra if a client decides they wanrt the horses. As for the likes of Dignity, co-op funeral(dont)care =, Fairways, and FPL they shouldnt be allowed to trade under family names when there is no family employed in the branch. Personaly i cant understand why people go to these parasites, just look at the… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Hello ‘anon’

A ‘transparency issue’ again – after the Coop hoo hah, I blogged persistently, one of my ‘targets’ was Mutual Services (Portsmouth) Ltd, the holding Company for Southern Coop F/D and ‘what they hide’ from the public

I haven’t checked to see if this has had any impact on their ‘web presence’ but I’m holding out virtually nil hope

regards

andrew

Nick Jowett
Guest
Nick Jowett

To react to this film by saying the dreadful staff we saw should be sacked is to miss the point. What shocks me is that these firms are raking in vast sums of money with huge mark-ups on coffins etc and yet they are clearly unwilling to pay for decently trained, decently paid and decently equipped staff in sufficient numbers. This is about funeral bosses who have had it too easy for too long, with people at the point of bereavement not questioning the level of charges, and, because people don’t really want to know what goes on in the… Read more »

Maggie Cassidy
Guest
Maggie Cassidy

The programme I watched last night was disgusting no respect what so ever. I think everyone that appeared in it should be sacked and never allowed to worked with people again dead or alive.! Why do we have to wait so long to bury or cremate our loved ones? Why do they have to be put through all of what we have seen on the programme disgraceful…. The Family that paid out £11,000 for the furneral that everyone said he smelt was the saddest of all, when asked if she will get her money back he hesitated. The family should… Read more »

rosie
Guest

Hi Maggie We can and some families do carry out everything themselves here too. The NDC charity offer guidance and support on all relevant points through our helpline, website and of course we cover every angle in the Natural Death Handbook. Unfortunately not everyone has friends/family who can cope with a DIY/Home funeral approach. We can but dream of a time when entering every funeral directors premises is safe and without fear of abuse or pressure selling. Maybe more people should engage with the process and ask to witness every step even if they don’t want to join in. As… Read more »

Evelyn
Guest

Such a sad, sordid and horrible affair. My heart breaks for those whom we saw being so callously treated in the care of FPL. No body deserves that. Any organisation surely takes its ethos, its guidance, its direction from its leaders – be it a charity, a supermarket, a school or a funeral director. Mr Greenfield should have read the taking in the in-breath post to get some sincerity into his apology. What is totally unacceptable is not monitoring, not knowing, or perhaps not caring, what your staff are doing at all levels of your business. I thought Managing Directors… Read more »

rosie
Guest

If you will employ this type of person Mr Greenfield, what do you expect! Your opening line is about your service to the families, no mention of the dead then!!! Typical diversionary response “all the cards and letters of gratitude” I wonder if those grateful families had witnessed the way their loved ones were handled and spoken about ‘back stage’ what they would say then? Every day I deal with traumatised families complaining about undertaker services. Virtually none of them has the strength to complain through the official channels. Some FDs know this and try to fool everyone with the… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

excellent Rosie, good for you, all very appropriate

regards

andrew

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Rosie here’s my (additional) input into your post:- “If you will employ this type of person Mr Greenfield, what do you expect!” – exactly, is or wasn’t it, people and not a person? “Your opening line is about your service to the families, no mention of the dead then!!!” – merely pawns used as part of ‘the profit machine’ “Typical diversionary response “all the cards and letters of gratitude” I wonder if those grateful families had witnessed the way their loved ones were handled and spoken about ‘back stage’ what they would say then?” – yes, I seem to recall… Read more »

Nick Gandon
Guest

Andrew,

Just for your information, the “blue gel” you refer to is likely to be a product called “syngel”. It is fairly expensive topical embalming product, which helps preserve the skin and upper layers of dermis.

It is used to obtain superior results, and can be used either on it’s own, together with chilling, or in addition to arterial embalming the subject.

A product I endorse without hesitation.

Nick

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

many thanks Nick

best

andrew

Wayne
Guest
Wayne

Nick,

Syngel is only effective when used by people who know what they are doing, the people shown using it didn’t even have a clue which was which. When used as it was in the program with no other consideration given to any real embalming technique it was futile and a total waste of time.

It is a wonderful product when used in the right way, but a terrible alternative to real embalming especially in a place with such lousy refrigeration.

Nick Gandon
Guest

Wayne,

I never suggested otherwise.

As you say, it’s a great product, and from the Dodge range of embalming chemicals. I’ve used it for around 20 years.

It is however, for professional use only. The ethical implications of allowing “non-trained non-mortuary” staff to “have-a-go” is beyond any acceptable practice I’ve ever known.

Nick

John Pidgeon
Guest
John Pidgeon

I cannot see how you can describe this product as being…”used for superior results”…when clearly the manner in which it was applied in THIS case did NOT give superior results. Surely Arterial Embalming is the most effective method of temporary preservation? Using an ointment as a surface preservative cannot have the same effect as professional embalming. I do not advocate embalming is for everyone, it obviously is not, however, it is the ONLY way to reasonably assure that a deceased person does not suffer severe Decompostion and subsequently cause distress to the bereaved. The use of refridgeration is only useful… Read more »

Nick Gandon
Guest

John, I sincerely agree with every word you say.

Perhaps I did not phrase my point as well as I could have…

What I intended, was to advise Andrew what the product actually was and what it does.

In my view, having used Syngel on many occasions over the past 20 or so years, I rate the product. It most certainly is not a substitute for arterial embalming, but used in conjunction gives a superior result.

What say you Ken?

Reegards, Nick

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Hello Charles

Unless I’ve missed something, it seems that YOU ARE STILL waiting for responses from George Tinning to your various ‘open letters’…..and as I’ve said before, this apparent refusal to respond can only harm their business

best

andrew

wayne
Guest
wayne

I completely agree with Sue, everything shown on these programs has been par for the course with these companies. Where I don’t agree is that the implication that the top management are somehow unaware of what goes on at lower levels of their companies. They are fully aware, they just don’t care as long as they aren’t receiving complaints and sales figures are met.

Sue
Guest
Sue

These bad practicies have been going on for years. People like mr. greenfield should spend a month working in their own companies, seeing what the reality is for their workers. I ‘ve witnessed the same things happening for years in this business – bad practice and managers who have no clue how to do things properly or ensure staff are doing their jobs properly. Extremely heavy coffins being carried by 4 bearers, when 6 are absolutely neded ..complain, and you are told “stop moaning and get on with it “…having heard the lame excuses from Mr. Greenfield, with his attitude… Read more »

John Pidgeon
Guest
John Pidgeon

This programme did not expose the TRUE Funeral Director, but rather took us back to an era of undignified, uncaring undertaking. This lot could not even be described as being COWBOYS, they were not good enough to be cowboys. The NAFD should take immediate steps to suspend Gillmans, and following an NAFD investigation (not an internal FPL whitewash) kick them out with Press Announcements to send a message to both other equally poor operators and the public that the NAFD will not let these operators disgrace our Profession. This goes beyond the Group/Independent issues that many are raising. There are… Read more »