Australia’s largest online consumer advocate and funeral planning platform, eziFunerals, holds grave concerns for consumers and Independent Funeral Homes as public listed companies, InvoCare and Propel Funeral Partners, acquire more family owned funeral homes.
Following Propel Funeral Partners recent acquisition of Newhaven Funerals Pty Ltd in North Queensland, InvoCare has been busy acquiring more independent funeral homes, with the announcement to acquire Lester and Son based in Albury-Wodonga, Victoria. Lester & Son represents the fifth acquisition this calendar year following the earlier announcements of JA Dunn Funerals, Southern Highlands Funerals, Hope & Sons Funeral Directors and Whitestone Funerals.
Peter Erceg, Founder of eziFunerals said “These latest acquisitions may be good news for shareholders, but not for consumers and independent funeral homes”.
‘Australia’s biggest undertakers just keep getting bigger. But is their growth coming at the expense of grieving families?’
The funeral industry in Australia is currently estimated to be $1.1 billion and is currently dominated by two ASX listed companies, InvoCare and Propel Funeral Partners.
InvoCare and Propel Funeral Partners currently control over 45% market share nationally. This is expected to grow further as InvoCare invests $200 million to increase its footprint as part of their ‘Protect and Grow’ strategy. Invocare currently operate over 270 locations and 16 cemeteries and crematoria. InvoCare has 3 national funeral brands in Australia (White Lady Funerals; Simplicity Funerals; and Value Funerals) and over 30 regional funeral home brands in different states across Australia.
Propel Funeral Partners, became the ASX’s second funeral stock in late 2017 as it sought to emulate Invocare by buying up smaller operators. Propel currently operate in over 103 locations, including 23 crematoria and 7 cemeteries.
These big chains are reporting higher and higher profits as they continue to increase their footprint and buy out small operators to increase their market share at the expense of consumers and the independents.
‘Is Australia’s watchdog doing enough to protect consumers?’
Despite several inquiries into the funeral industry, government regulators in Australia have failed to tackle ongoing community concerns about rising costs, misleading practices and a growing concentration of market share by InvoCare and Propel Funeral Partners.
According to eziFunerals, the Australian funeral industry has many similarities to the UK, with large corporate companies controlling market share. However, unlike the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which have just launched an investigation into the £2bn a year funerals market, ASIC and the ACCC have been silent in looking at issues in the way the funeral industry operates here, including the rate at which the large corporate brands have raised prices in recent years.
Peter Erceg said ‘It’s time for the funeral industry to regain consumer trust. Most funeral homes in the industry do the right thing, but government regulators in Australia need to act in the interests of consumers, even when there are marketplace reasons not to do so. Only time will tell if Australia’s watchdog will have the courage to follow the UK.’
eziFunerals is a free consumer advocacy and funeral planning platform that supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company, and are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We are not part of any other funeral company. Founded by consumers frustrated by how difficult it was to get independent information, eziFunerals supports consumers plan a funeral, compare prices and select the right funeral director anywhere, anytime.