Assessment of current picture
5. Information held by the Scottish Government indicates that there are approximately 700 funeral director businesses and company branches in Scotland. There are a number of funeral director businesses that, in addition to their main business, operate one or multiple branches. Of the 700 businesses and company branches initial information indicates that there are approximately 450 individual funeral director businesses and approximately 250 funeral director branches. Large businesses, such as Co-operative Funeralcare and Dignity, operate the majority of these branches across Scotland. It is however recognised by many that the dynamics of the business network in Scotland is evolving more rapidly in the last few years more so than in the last twenty, reportedly due to the uncertainty of the future, and also with active expansion and acquisition programmes being evident.
6. It is expected that numbers of funerals in Scotland will increase from the approximately 57,000 base line and response to this demand and the changing face of customer expectations will determine the future and nature of the work. In addition, many Funeral Director businesses are considering the way in which they engage with the bereaved through pre and at need channels, such as on-line funeral booking tools and concerted marketing and media campaigns. This creates a new arena in which businesses are delivering their services, and has either the potential to improve customer choice empowering the bereaved to achieve a respectful funeral tailored to their requirements, or if done poorly creating confusion and consequential distress.
7. It is recognised that significant efforts are being made to ensure clarity of service descriptors, however it is the view of the Inspector that those efforts need to continue throughout this period of significant change to protect the public and to ensure customer choice is delivered without compromising quality and standards of service.