With the exception of some branches of Co-operative Funeralcare pretty much every funeral home in the country trades either under the name of either its present owner or its one-time owner. It’s very hard to tell if a funeral home is the sort of family business you’re actually after or a member of a larger group.

Cecil Newling “are your friendly family owned funeral directors in Royston and surroundings”. EA Langley “are your friendly family owned funeral directors in Paddington and surroundings.” E. Wotten “are your friendly family owned funeral directors in Calne and Chippenham and surroundings”. The family in question is Lodge Brothers. Lodge Brothers family-own 39 funeral businesses in the south of England, almost all of which trade under the names of the previous owners and are, of course, “your friendly family owned funeral directors” wherever they are – they’re just not owned by the family you think owns it.

The people who run groups think that we don’t want to buy a funeral from them, we’d rather deal with a wee ‘mom and pop shop’. For this reason, Dignity Caring Funerals cleverly cultivates zero brand recognition except among its shareholders. Every Dignity branch trades under its old family name, but every branch also displays the logo of its owner. Because you don’t recognise it you don’t notice it. It looks like this:

Of course there’s no reason why someone couldn’t roll out a great brand in funerals. Imagine if John Lewis did funerals – why, we’d all buy one from them.

For now, when you’re shopping around, ask very carefully who owns the business. Our advice: small is usually best.