Funeralcare for sale?

Charles 16 Comments



The capital shortfall at the Co-operative Bank is estimated to be somewhere between £1–1.8 billion. This debt has been downgraded by Moody’s to junk status. The Co-op is going to have to sell assets in order to pay it off. 

Here’s the news for Funeralworld. Today’s Daily Telegraph speculates as follows: 

Further asset disposals are under review. The bank has already announced the sale of its life insurance business and the parent Co-op Group may be asked to sanction the disposal of other assets that range from funeral parlours to farmland.

Things could get interesting. 



  1. Charles

    How the. Mighty fall. Perhaps the coop are running out of money. Having to keep paying out compensation on all the blunders made by their cowboy incompetent management. NO BONUS. This year Mr Tinning and co

  2. Charles

    Funeral care is a potential source of cash for the Co-Op, not the cause of their financial problems – which appear to stem from the 2009 purchase of the Britannia Building Society. Lloyds bought HBOS at the same time and they have struggled since then so it is not a unique Co-Op problem.
    They have sold their life assurance business for £200 million – barely 10% of their capital shortfall on the most pessimistic assumption. Will they sell the rest of the bank to another bank? Or will they sell their profitable assets (funerals, supermarkets) to bridge a ‘temporary’ problem at the bank.
    As the UK market leader in the funeral sector, how would the market change if the biggest provider was sold? Who would want to buy it? And would it be broken up into regional blocs? And what would the OFT make of any purchase?
    Finally, would anyone like to hazard a guess as to what Funeral care is likely to be worth to a potential buyer?

    1. Charles

      good stuff indeed Simon, thanks for posting

      as, errr, a reasonably ‘long term’ critic of Funeralcare’s ‘activities’ shall we say, I have long hoped for a ‘break up’ of this beast but as it’s so large, exactly how….? SCI will not venture back into the UK and it would be a large animal for anyone to swallow, Dignity would probably be out of the game on pure competition grounds, alone……………..but……



      1. Charles

        One thought intriges me; if some outfit does buy Funeralcare outright, will it follow their example and carry on trading under Funeralcare’s own good (sic) name, as if nothing had happened?

        Its motto could be: ‘Because They Cared’.

    2. Charles

      Simon said:

      “…Finally, would anyone like to hazard a guess as to what Funeral care is likely to be worth to a potential buyer?…”

      Yes, I’ll have a go

      The largest recent acquisition (as some kind of a pointer) was Dignity’s acquisition of Yew Holdings (nearly six months ago) for £58.3M, which was thought by some to be on the high side. (F’care will be able to achieve a higher funerals per branch figure than Yew did, I suspect and do more pa than yew). The consideration included 40 branches (their respective freeholds) and two Crems

      F’care have approx 900 branches, those lovely hubs (sic), a handful of Crem’s and a couple of Woodland Burial sites. Based on the Yew valuation, a simplistic rudimentary valuation could be £1.3billion, subject to the usual adjustments etc etc. That would clear the “debt” at ‘the Bank’ in one foul swoop but it would be one heck of an amount for any player to digest



  3. Charles

    The Funeralcare website says:
    The Co-operative Funeralcare is required by UK law to invest all Funeral Plan monies in a Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulated Whole of Life policy or trust fund. If you are paying in full or by Direct Debit over 12, 24, 36 or 60 months, the money is invested in The Co-operative Insurance Whole of Life fund. If you are paying by Fixed Monthly Payments the money is invested in a Whole of Life policy with AXA Wealth Ltd.

    Your money is managed under the Financial Services Authority (FSA) Guidelines and the fund is subject to yearly valuations and capital assessments. In addition The Co-operative Funeralcare is a member of the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) which provides rules and guidelines around investments that its members must conform to. This offers you the protection that your money is invested in line with these guidelines. The FPA also have arrangements for resolving disputes between customers and FPA registered providers. You can call the FPA on 0845 601 9619 or visit for more information.

    Hope this answers the question.


  4. Charles

    I think it is unlikely that they will sell many or any of their funeral branches at this would create a very difficult situation in respect of any clients who have purchased funeral plans that can only be serviced by them, within certain post codes anyway. They could of course consider the sale of some of their crematoriums, masonry departments or even their coffin manufacturing business. Much more likely a strategy I suspect will be a re drafting of existing budgets over investment within the funeral business infastructure, coupled with a significant increase in thier charges. In short they will milk the cash cow that is funerals dry, which will of course result in a slash and burn accountancy approach to their biggest overhead, personnel costs.

    A good time for Independents who can ensure good standards of service and practice to increase thier market share has never been more likely, I would humbly suggest. Sadly a desperately bad time is ahead for many future Co-op clients if my theory has any substance.

  5. Charles

    But isn’t the Co-operative one of the biggest property owners in the UK, owning something like £100 billion pounds worth of property? Think how many bank branches, food stores, funeral homes, pharmacy stores, retail distribution centres, farms etc etc they actually own. I would bet my hat that nothing will happen to funeralcare at all. They couldn’t be more rich in assets if they tried.

  6. Charles

    Funeralcare is a solid buisness earning well in an ever growing marketplace
    They would be fools to sell it.

    Like all large buisnesses there are the odd bad apples and like all buisnesses the people at the top are greedy and money orientated.

    But the vast core of employees in funeralcare are professional people who are committed to looking after the families and their loved ones.

    It would certainly be a solid investment for any buyer
    And yes I do work for funeralcare so I am qualified to comment.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>