Ashes become river stones as funeral group InvoCare goes high-tech

“I think that makes it a lot more tangible,” Mr. Chrétien said.

He said the two groups have been working closely together for nine months and have done extensive market research on how best to roll it out in Australia. “It’s something we want to test over time,” he said.

He said InvoCare had also used ‘smart glasses’ in Queensland, where an embalming expert at a Brisbane hub was able to guide people in regional areas in real time through high-tech connections as they went. as they learned new techniques.

InvoCare operates companies such as White Lady Funerals, Simplicity Funerals, Le Pine and Value Cremations. The Australian business saw record funeral volumes, with operating revenue up 11% to $167 million in the six months to June 30. at $8511.

The group’s profit before interest and tax rose 10% to $44 million, but it suffered a net loss of $16.7 million for the June half due to a downward revaluation of its significant $595 million pool of funds invested in the stock market and real estate when people sign up for prepaid funerals.

Australia recorded more deaths than expected during the half of June in what is known in the profession as ‘excess deaths’. Experts attribute it to COVID-19 infections exacerbating existing health conditions, but there have also been more deaths from heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.

This follows two years of below-average death rates despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which many medical experts attribute to strict health restrictions at the start of the pandemic as more people stayed at home. and wore masks in public. “We protected people,” he said.

Mr Chrétien said the ‘excessive’ death rate was not uniform across Australia.

UBS analyst Tim Plumbe said it was a “strong result” but growth lagged the industry and smaller competitor Propel Funeral Partners, which generated 10.1% growth in Australian funeral service volumes. Mr Plumbe said it looked like InvoCare had lost market share.

Mr Chrétien, who has been chief executive since January 2021, said the group would be at the forefront of seeking acquisition opportunities.

As of June 30, its funds under management of $595 million exceeded future liabilities related to prepaid funerals by $51.5 million. The group also said that with the partial rebound in equity markets over the past few weeks, around 40% of the decline has already reversed. InvoCare has a conservative approach to its asset allocation and has invested 36% in equities, 28% in real estate and 36% in cash and fixed interest.

The company is also driving strong growth in a pet cremation business established in 2019. Revenue from this business increased 22% to $16.7 million as the group performed 49,341 pet cremations company during the six months ended June 30. InvoCare operates pet cremation operations from 16 locations in five states.

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