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NERA Economic Consulting is pleased to have advised Dignity Plc through the market study and subsequent market investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the UK funerals industry.

Dignity supports more families through the heartbreak of a loved one’s bereavement than any other provider in the UK. Dignity’s staff helps thousands of families remember and celebrate the lives of their lost loved ones with bespoke services and memorials. Dignity is the largest private provider of crematoria services in the UK, with more than 45 crematoria and cemeteries, and the second largest provider of funeral services with a national network of more than 820 funeral homes. It is the only listed company in the UK funerals sector.

The CMA investigated the funeral and crematoria markets to make sure that choice and competition were working well and vulnerable customers were protected. 

As an empirically driven competition authority, the CMA analysed various aspects of the affected markets. NERA supported Dignity and its external legal advisors, Slaughter and May, through each stage of the process and the empirical analyses of the market investigation.

The UK funerals and crematoria markets are highly fragmented, with more than 3,000 independent funeral directors and over 350 crematoria (most of which are operated by public-sector local authorities). Almost all families want to tailor a service or memorial to celebrating their loved one in the way that suits them. Helping analyse the trends and developments of these markets, the interaction of private and public-sector players, the array of choices by customers, and then the impact of COVID-19 required significant data analysis and modelling.

NERA’s economic advice covered issues on customer choice, pricing and profitability, investment incentives and entry analysis, and the impact of the pandemic disruptions. NERA helped the client respond to information requests, supported the drafting of key submissions and analyses, and gave evidence at site visits and hearings. 

Following more than two years of study and investigation, the CMA published its final report in December 2020 and implemented its remedies package in June 2021.  

The CMA’s report recognises the crucial role and support that funeral directors and crematoria providers offer to UK citizens. It recognises the important role that Dignity and other private providers play in delivering high-quality services and necessary investment. Dignity welcomed the CMA’s proposed remedies to make certain that parts of the market work better for consumers, increasing price and information transparency. The CMA will continue to monitor the sector given its crucial role.