The largest business operation of the year in the Spanish funeral services sector so far is the purchase of Mémora, the largest national operator, by the Catalana Occidente group, which paid an amount close to 390 million euros at the end of July. In February, the CMNC authorized the merger operation by acquisition by Elysius, parent company of the Áltima group controlled by Albia and Grupo VFV, of Juanals, and later by Sociedad Serveis Funeraris d’Inca, SL, which affects the markets of Gerona and Balearic Islands.
These are notable movements in a market that had a total turnover of 1,630 million euros in 2021, and in which a phenomenon of concentration and entry of investment funds and venture capital groups is taking place, and that the congress of the National Association of Funeral Services, Panasef, was held this week in Seville. If in 2007, according to a report from the Ministry of Finance, there were 1,616 funeral companies in Spain, at the end of 2021 there were 1,076. 33% less. The tendency to concentration is evident.
Fifteen years ago there were up to eight companies with a national presence, while now there are five: Mémora, Albia, Funespaña, Servisa and Asv . Those five big ones, they explain in Panasef, share approximately half of the market, while the other 50% remains for the remaining 1,071, almost all micro-enterprises with very local implantation. Andalusia, with 181 companies, is the one that concentrates the most, according to its population weight and its 785 municipalities.
The sector is experiencing a moment of adjustment. In 2019, turnover was 1,565 million euros, after annual growth of between 30 million per year in previous years. The figure shot up to 1,700 million euros in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021 it dropped to 1,630 million . It is 0.14% of GDP. A slight correction is still expected until it returns to pre-pandemic levels.
“The brutal rise in the price of supplies” will also influence the turnover of 2022, indicates the vice president of Panasef, Francisco Enríquez. The cost of gas has multiplied by six, the electricity bill has skyrocketed… “The perspective is that some of this rise will be passed on to prices, but always below the CPI “, he assures.
The sector is now immersed in the challenge of sustainability, with significant investments in crematoria to achieve zero emissions . “Companies are anticipating what the regulations require,” explains Enríquez.
Currently, in provincial capitals, 60% of services include cremation (in rural areas the percentage is lower, so the national overall is 45%). At the national level, the cases of cities such as Malaga or Seville stand out, where the percentage is 80% .
Likewise, investments are also being made for energy self -sufficiency in companies that have a notable consumption, since in addition to the crematoria they have to maintain air-conditioned facilities of thousands of square meters in many cases.
In addition, the companies are reinforcing their emotional, psychological and ceremonial services ( 15% of the ceremonies are already civil and include projections of images of the deceased, digital platforms to honor the memory of the deceased and other services).
The funeral service itself includes the ark, transfers, funeral facilities, personal assistance for the family, catering, coordination of ceremonies, administrative permits, management of the medical certificate, registration in the civil registry, book of reminders, procedures with insurance companies, thanatoesthetics , thanatopraxia and psychological assistance.
Up to a dozen economic agents participate in addition to the funeral home: florists, marble workers, taxi drivers, cemeteries and crematoriums, churches, doctors, forensic scientists, psychologists, the media, restaurants and public administrations, among others.
The final price is made up of 56% for the value of funeral services in the strict sense, 11.7% for complementary services such as fees, certificates, crowns, tombstones, obituaries… 16.5% for burial or cremation and 15% for indirect taxes (VAT).
From Panasef they fight the topic that funeral services are expensive: if you take into account the number of factors that intervene and that are coordinated, the price is adjusted , they defend.
Satisfaction with the services of the families who collect the surveys is very high
Four out of five families rated the services received after resorting to one of the companies in the sector with a 9 or 10 , and only 3% rated a 6 or less.
The sector maintains 12,300 direct jobs.
One of the objectives of the national congress held in Seville this week has been to put on the table the need to regulate the sector with a new law . The current one dates from 1974 and is already considered absolutely obsolete, and also with different regulations in the autonomous communities. “We demand a national law, and it does not come,” says Francisco Enríquez.