Dignity loses two long-standing board members as it works on new strategy

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Dignity PLC (LON:DTY) has said its longstanding finance director has resigned with immediate effect along with one other established member of the board as the company works on balancing its long and short-term targets.

The funeral services parlour operator said it is looking to get the backing of its largest shareholder, Phoenix Asset Management, as it develops a “combination of compelling propositions and price points” using its current resources.

READ: Funeral groups escape price controls as coronavirus forces CMA to rein back

The board said this was necessary as, even amid the strains of the current year, it “has not lost sight of the need to drive the ongoing root and branch review” of the business but is aware that the long-term aim of growing sustainable market share “could have ramifications for short-term performance”.

While an update on this will be provided to shareholders alongside results next March, the main changes now are to the boardroom, where finance chief Steve Whittern will leave the company he joined 20 years ago at the end of the month, after 11 years in his current role.

Accompanying him out the boardroom door with immediate effect will be corporate services director Richard Portman, who has also stepped down from the board 20 years after joining the company.

Executive chairman Clive Whiley will take over Portman’s role prior to the appointment of a new chief operating officer, while non-executive director Dean Moore, a chartered accountant, will step in as interim chief financial officer while a process is completed to find a permanent replacement. The company has also promoted the director of its funeral operations as an additional executive director with immediate effect.

The shares fell 6% to 684.85p by mid-morning on Monday.

Analysts at broker Peel Hunt said the comments about the ramifications of the long- and short-term issues was “rather cryptic”, but presumably “is referring to price action in order to maintain/build market share”.

“In the short term volumes should be strong; however, this is likely to be a material pull-forward in the death rate, meaning a marked reduction post Covid.”

   –Adds shares, broker comment–

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