Dignity reported a fall in annual profits for the year on Wednesday causing shares to slide downwards.

The funeral operator said that during the 52 week period ended 28 December 2018, underlying operating profits fell 23% to £80.2 million, with revenue also down 3% to £315.6 million.

Despite the fall, profits remained ahead of expectations, with the company having previously forecast underlying profits of £79 million at the start of the year.

Dignity also said it performed 72,300 funerals during the period, compared to 68,800 the year before.

Deaths during the year were ahead of the previous year, rising 2% from 590,000 in 2017 to 599,000.

The company proposed a final dividend of 15.74, remaining unchanged from the previous year.

Dignity chief executive Mark McCollum commented on the results:

“2018 marked the beginning of a period of radical change for Dignity. We reduced our funeral prices, created a broader range of choices for clients and embarked on plans to transform the business by the end of 2021.

Our vision is to lead the funeral sector in terms of quality, standards and value-for-money. To achieve this we are building a more coherent, cohesive and technology-enabled business, one geared to meeting the changing needs of our customers. I am pleased with the progress we made during the year, we built momentum and our Transformation Plan is on track. A lot of work remains to be done, but I am confident that with our highly experienced staff and the new transformation expertise we have brought in, we will achieve our goals.”

He also added that he expected the competitions and markets authority (CMA) to also begin its investigation in the industry in 2019.

Dignity is one of the largest funeral operators in the UK. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange. It has been a publicly traded company since 2004.

Its headquarters are in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham UK.

Shares in Dignity (LON:DTY) are currently trading -0.94% as of 11:46AM (GMT).