- Dignity said that underlying operating profit jumped from £31.1m in the first quarter of 2016 to £37.4m in the same period of 2017.

As anticipated at the time of Dignity's 2016 preliminary results published in March, the number of deaths in the first quarter was higher than the previous year, but lower than 2015.

Data from previous years indicated that large variances in the number of deaths at the end of the first quarter tended to normalise by the end of the year.

The group's current assumption continued to be that the number of deaths in 2017 will be lower than 2016 (which was a 53 week period).

Average incomes continued to be robust and overheads well controlled.

In addition, its pre-arranged funeral plan business traded well, with sales significantly up in the quarter compared to 2016.

Dignity continued to develop its digital services strategy, with various developments underway. Further commentary will be provided in its interim results, due to be released on 2 August 2017.

Acquisition activity in the period continued, with the group completing the acquisition of a total of 12 funeral locations and one small crematorium for consideration of approximately £20m.

This included one funeral location acquired after 31 March, but prior to the date of this announcement.

Further acquisition activity would be expected throughout the year.

In addition, the company opened three satellite locations in the period, submitted a planning application for a new crematorium and await a decision on another crematorium planning application.

There were no other significant transactions since the period end date.

Taking these factors into account, its overall expectations for the year were positive and remained unchanged.

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