Charles 11 Comments

The Birmingham Post reports the takeover by Laurel of 2 undertakers, WH Scott and Earl & Co.

Scott’s is a business with no website but masses of barnacles heritage and a noble lineage stretching back over five generations. We trust that the present generation, the one that brought the proud dynasty to an end by cashing in the family silver, has trousered an absurdly high sum for the business.

So far, so banal. Laurel is in predatory mode just now, seeking whom it may devour. Yawn.

What makes the BrumPo article so funny is the statement by Laurel ceo, Deborah Kemp, who is not only a whiz with jargon but also has a wicked way with a metaphor. She says:

“As is our approach with all the brands in our collective, we will look to retain the personality and individuality of each brand while ensuring both businesses benefit from working under the Laurel umbrella.”


“With a strong pipeline of funeral businesses expressing an interest in joining the collective, these acquisitions are the first of a number of selective purchases that we intend to make in 2014.”


“Not only will this activity bolster our foothold in key locations and further cement our position in the sector, it will continue to highlight to the industry both the robustness of our offering and our credibility as an acquirer of funeral businesses.”


Deborah, Deborah, all this fine, fighting talk about cementing your pipeline under your umbrella and not one word, not even a single syllable in your public statement about what a great deal this is for bereaved people.

It is, isn’t it?


  1. Charles

    So, you’ll be writing all that in your literature for bereaved clients, I presume? It would certainly have me running into your arms, begging to help you bolster your foothold in key locations by donating my dead relative in the name of your selective acquisitivenss. I wish you every success in your pipeline dreams x.

    ps: is that you in the picture, Ms Kemp?

  2. Charles

    Duke Street (tagline “Inspiring the Ambitious”) bought Laurel from Sovereign Capital; this was added to Duke’s portfolio of Business, Healthcare, Financial and Consumer Services.
    Laurel claims it is #3 in the UK “funeral Services market”, with over 60 branches. All of whom keep their own, original names.
    Ms Kemp is talking to their investors here, with an eye on further riches.
    Laurel/Duke are hell bent on acquiring more.
    Anyone thinking of dying within the newly acquired’s bailiwick, make a run for it now while you can.
    Preferably to a genuinely independently run funeral parlour, with clients-coming-first policies as bedrock.
    Mass market is the way ‘the industry’ is going.

  3. Charles

    While companies like this and Dignity are happy to tell you about their “acquisitions,” and people like the GFG point this out to the public, this can only be good for independent funeral directors who still care about what they do.

    This should be a time that SAIF (no, I’m not a member) should be shouting from the rooftops about why independent funeral directors should be supported and used….but they won’t. Hence why I am not a member.

    There needs to be a forum for independent funeral directors that is similar to the GFG. Like-minded funeral directors share information and thoughts and figure out what we can do to make sure those in our local areas know we are independent and just because it says “Jones Funeral Directors” above the door doesn’t mean they aren’t owned by Laurel or Dignity.

    Why do we never make a big enough song and dance when positive PR can be spun our way?
    It isn’t just good for our businesses, but it is a great chance of telling everyone how much we love what we do and how we can help them in ways bigger companies just can’t.

    1. Charles

      Lucy, I agree with you to an extent – it was something that was suggested on this blog a little while ago, and Nick Armstrong and I looked into. It proved to be a rather massive task though, and fell by the wayside.

      For the same reason as you, Kingfisher is not a member of SAIF (or any other trade association for that matter) but what we do very frequently is shout exactly what you are suggesting we should be shouting – that other companies are not what they imply they are.

      We’ve got a full page advert in our local paper today, and it’s already generated enquiries. We do this every 2-3 weeks now, and my biggest regret is that we didn’t start doing it earlier.

      I’m not sure if this link will work, but I’ll try:

      1. Charles

        I really like that advert. It isn’t been possible for me to advertise in my local press much (Oxford prices are madness!) but doing a bit here and there when I can.
        So happy to be the only recommended funeral director in Oxfordshire for the Natural Death Centre and having my customers review the business on Funeral Advisor has been fantastic.
        It seems a shame that there isn’t really a formal association that really represents everything me and my company is about….and by frequenting the GFG, a lot of other funeral directors too.
        The good thing though is that the GFG is here and by the number of funeral directors on here and sharing experiences and giving advice, it is the same thing just without the “Association” name and the fancy gold chain of office!

  4. Charles

    Good morning Lucy & Andrew,
    Very Interesting points mentioned here, Lucy you have mentioned advertising is expensive in area, that is a shame as Im pushing my advertising in many ways, I have a 4 month contract with a local radio station that gets my business mentioned 9 times during the week and at least 7 times on a Saturday.
    At first it was very expensive but after showing some interest i agreed to sponsor a weekend Air time show,
    Now please do not think bad of me but the Show is called Going Underground, It plays 80s 90s and modern music, and has a 12 second Air play stating Going Underground with G M Taylor Independent Funeral Directors, Offering a traditional and modern Funeral Service at an Affordable Price.
    Now it did not take me long to confirm the booking as no other FD is on the radio in my Area and to be honest no other FD has the balls to sponsor a shoe called Going Underground.
    Another advertising asset i have agreed to is in Supermarkets,
    Sainsburys in Hadleigh Rd, Ipswich have a advert of mine next to the ATM i agreed a 12 month contract and the sign is bigger than A4, it has a lot of my prices on including a Horse drawn Funeral Complete with Cremation, Minister / Celebrant, Limousine and all our fees for £3,333.00.
    I am due a flyer leaflet drop soon and I have a fantastic contact in Essex that will print 10,0000 for £300.00 and a leaflet guy that distributes them at £25 per 1000, is this something you have thought of…..
    I can forward all contacts if needed.
    best wishes

    1. Charles

      For an advert on my local radio station, it would cost me £1500+VAT per week!
      For an advert in my local paper it would be £480+VAT per month….completely out of my league at the moment.
      I love the idea of sponsoring that radio show though. I’m sure it brings a smile to quite a few faces!
      Please do forward the details of your printer because that could come in handy.
      I think all these methods of advertising aren’t really something that these larger funeral groups would ever consider….and putting prices on everything…unheard of!

      1. Charles

        Although I agree that £480+VAT sounds a lot Lucy, I think you have to look at it in terms of an investment, and what return it could bring. For starters, you should never accept the first price a paper offers you – I reckon you could get that down to £350 without too much hassle, lower if you agreed to a number of adverts over, say, a year.

        How many people does it take to see your advert and ask you to conduct a funeral to pay for itself? Don’t answer that, you know the answer, and it’s not a high number.

        I totally see where you are coming from, I would’ve thought the same thing before I tried it, but the number of people who have “put the advert away for when it’s needed” (as someone called it this week) is incredible.

        It could very well be worth you taking the plunge. Our ability to share ideas on here is very encouraging, and as I said before, my regret is not advertising ‘big style’ earlier.

        Feel free to use anything from the advert I shared (except our picture of course!) and good luck.

        1. Charles

          Currently working with my local newspaper. They call me when they have space to fill, I knock them down a bit and then take out an advert!
          Got one going in every day next week on a supplement they are putting in as a “useful numbers” board.
          There will be all manner of tradesmen and emergency numbers as well as my little advert.
          Hopefully that will start the ball rolling as well as sponsoring local events and charities.

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