- Dignity said deaths at 590,000 in 2017 were unchanged from the previous year, resulting in a pre-tax profit of £71.2m also unchanged from the previous year amid pricing pressures.

The firm, however, announced plans to combat changing market conditions, which forced it to reduce its funeral prices.

'Following our announcement on 19 January that we were reducing some of our funeral prices and holding others in response to changing market conditions, we have engaged L.E.K. Consulting to work with us in developing our plan for the funeral business,' the firm said.

L.E.K. was said to have collated detailed information from the group's various information sources, which is being analysed and reviewed. The results of which is expected to be released in the first quarter trading update slated for 14 May 2018.

The final dividend declared was unchanged compared to last year at 15.74p, bringing the total dividend for the year to 24.38p

Management have bolstered their portfolio and acquired 24 funeral locations and one 'small' crematoria in the year.

Pre-arranged funeral plans rose to 450,000 versus 404,000, helped by trust and insurance based sales.

The firm said that whilst the combination of action to transform its business model being taken will lead to substantially lower profits in 2018, it should create a new platform to allow many years of further stable growth.

Mike McCollum, Chief Executive of Dignity plc said: 'We are the only business with a national network of funeral and crematoria locations, giving us a unique position in the evolving funeral market. Following the trading update in January 2018, we have now begun a new chapter for Dignity and for the funeral business in particular. It does not change our focus on excellent client service, which remains core to how we operate. We will also continue to demonstrate industry leadership by seeking the regulated market that will be good for clients and society and which plays to our strengths as a compliant and well managed business.'

At 8:48am: [LON:DTY] Dignity PLC share price was +124.5p at 977.5p

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