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Dignity Plc revenue rises on more UK funeral services

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(Reuters) - Funeral services provider Dignity Plc <DTY.L> said on Monday it had conducted almost 10,000 more burials and cremations in the first nine months of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while adding that it was deferring the search for a new top boss as it prepares for regulatory reviews.

The company, which owns around 800 funeral locations and operates 46 crematoria in Britain, said on Monday it conducted 61,700 funerals in the three quarters to Sept. 25 in the United Kingdom, compared with 52,100 last year.

"Following the terrible impact of COVID-19 in the second quarter this year, the number of deaths in the third quarter was broadly flat on the prior year," Dignity said in a statement.

Underlying revenue rose 4% to 234.5 million pounds in the period. However, underlying operating profit fell nearly 8% as overhead costs rose.

The company said that many people were opting for simpler funerals because of social distancing rules and limitations on gatherings, although 44% of its funerals were still full-service in October, before the imposition of new restrictions last week.

That pushed the average cost of a funeral slightly higher to about 2,480 pounds in October from 2,381 pounds in the third quarter.

Dignity also said it was co-operating with Britain's competition watchdog on its proposal to impose price controls on the sector. The company said a final decision by the regulator is expected "well before" the deadline of March 27, 2021.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Uttaresh.V)