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The UK Funeral Industry

The UK funeral market is currently estimated to be worth around £1billion annually, with over 600,000 funerals taking place each year. There are an estimated 4,000 funeral directors at present offering services, but exact numbers are difficult to pinpoint as the profession is unregulated and anyone can enter it. 

Prices can and do vary enormously between not just regions but between individual homes within the same area, so comparing like for like quotes is strongly recommended to anyone requiring funeral related services. Funeral director businesses range from part time, sideline ventures to (small to medium groups) through to international corporations.  One of the main criticisms of the industry by watchdogs and other groups is that funeral homes are not being totally clear as to their true ownership, hence the reason many traditional family business names still exist even though they may have been acquired by larger groups

There are various trade associations with their own strict "Code of Practice" which their members are bound by as well as an independent ombudsman (Professor Geoffrey Woodroffe of the Funeral Ombudsman Scheme FOS). The vast majority of funeral homes are members of 1 or more of these associations and schemes, however their is no law to insist on membership of any. 

The funeral market in the UK has 2 industry leaders, The Co-operative Group (CWS Ltd) and Dignity Caring Funeral Services (Dignity Plc).  The Co-operative Group (CWS Ltd) has over 675 branches across the UK and conduct around 90,000 funerals a year.  They also own the North Eastern Co-operative. Dignity have just over 500 branches and conduct 75,000 funeral a year.  Between these 2 companies, they are currently involved in over 25% of all funerals in the UK.

There are several other large groups with large numbers of funerals homes.  These are different Co-op Groups (mainly regional co-op's) The Midland Co-operative Society, Southern Co-operative Society, United Co-operative Society, Yorkshire Co-operative Society, Lincoln Co-operative Society, Leeds Co-operative Society, Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-operative Society, Heart Of England Co-operative Society, Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society. 

There are also several privately owned companies who are conducting large numbers of funerals in the UK.


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