- Funeral services company Dignity reported first-quarter underlying profit growth that topped its expectations following a 'significantly' higher-than-expected number of deaths owing to Covid-19.

For the 13 week period ended March 26, underlying operating profit increased to £26.1 million from £19.4 million year-on-year as revenue climbed 14% to £94.7 million.

The number of deaths grew 27% to 204,000, but since the end of the quarter, the UK has witnessed deaths falling below the five-year average.

'COVID-19 has had a distorting impact on the business both in terms of operations and the financial results, making comparisons to the prior year difficult,' the company said.

'It also makes the short-term future hard to predict because we don't know whether we face a period of a lower than the average death rate or another wave of contagion and a subsequent higher number of deaths,' it added.

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