UK

Co-op’s funeral business hit as death rate falls

A shock 10% drop within the death rate has hit the Co-operative Group’s funeral business, with revenues slipping by 6% as a outcome.

The group additionally mentioned {that a} aware resolution to not change its costs in a aggressive market had weighed on progress.

In its monetary assertion, the group mentioned: “The unexpected fall in the death rate has been a key factor in our performance,” including that holding costs in a altering market had additionally dragged revenues down.

Funerals fell from 53,213 this time final yr to 48,423 within the first half of this yr, in keeping with the Co-operative Group’s assertion.

In the UK, the mortality rate steadily decreased between 2001 and 2016, in keeping with authorities statistics. Since 2016, nevertheless, the death rate has fluctuated and the rate of enchancment has lowered.

On what could have pushed this drop in deaths, the corporate’s chief government Steve Murrells mentioned: “The weather plays a part and the fluctuation in the death rate is ever thus.”

Murrells went on to recommend that if the temperature dropped this winter, it may result in a spike in deaths.

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“I suspect if we do have the Beast from the East returning early next year the death rate will start to rise again”, he mentioned.

Mr Murrells mentioned that the funeral business was going via a “significant change”, and the Co-op was now targeted on “resetting our business model and making sure we’re match fit for a changing market”.

The firm mentioned it might consider innovation, alternative, flexibility and partnerships.

The mutually-owned group, which additionally owns supermarkets, noticed pre-tax earnings fall by £19m to £25m within the first half of the yr, in comparison with the identical interval in 2018.

According to Mr Murrells, the grocery store will stockpile merchandise together with water and bathroom paper forward of Brexit.

“If a negotiated withdrawal from the EU doesn’t take place at the end of October, we expect some disruption to our supply chain”, the corporate mentioned in its monetary outcomes.

“We’re particularly concerned about what a no-deal Brexit will mean for the British farmers”, it added.

On a extra philosophical be aware, the corporate mentioned it was “mindful of how Brexit has exposed deep divisions within our communities with strong feelings of disempowerment and neglect expressed by many”, including: “These are serious matters that an economic resolution to Brexit will only partially address.”

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