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Funeral firms ‘took advantage of grief’, says Co-op boss

Co-op CEO Steve Murrells has claimed funeral firms “took advantage of grief” during a period in which price wasn’t an issue for those booking a funeral, creating ‘the wrong behaviour in the industry’.

The funeral provider recently introduced a new range of affordable products, including direct cremation, which Murrells said was already popular. The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) proposed a further probe into the sector as part of its investigation following the recent discovery of “serious concerns” it had regarding above-inflation price rises.

Murrells said he and the Co-op had been pushing for the investigation: “We think this market needs regulation. This is a caring market that needs to provide the best service at the most difficult of circumstances. You or I could open up a funeral business tomorrow with no qualifications or regulation. It’s crazy.”

He added: “For too long the industry kept putting prices up. People felt obliged to spend it – they kind of felt it represented the importance of that person’s life. I felt we needed to make funerals more affordable for people at a time of austerity and of sorrow.”

On the subject of the changing attitudes of customers, Murrells said: “People’s interpretation at the saddest point is changing, from one of grief to celebration.”

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