The funeral market in France is worth around 2.5 billion euros a year and is operated by around 5,000 funeral homes, most of which have fewer than ten employees and strong local roots. Consolidated and resistant to crises, the French market is going through a period of acquisitions and takeovers that favour concentration in two large groups, OGF and Funécap, the two companies that dominate this industry.
Big numbers of the funeral industry in France
Deaths in France
The number of deaths recorded in France has increased by 24.28% over the last ten years. The highest number of deaths was observed in 2020, with approximately 668,800 deaths according to the National Institute of Demographic Studies, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The demographic ageing of the French population favours the funeral market. In fact, the “baby boom” generations are now reaching old age, which predicts a structural growth in deaths that could reach 770,000 deaths by 2050, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE).
Incineration vs. cremation
Incineration is a growing trend in the French market and is tending to replace burial. 47% of French people preferred burial in 2008, but ten years later this percentage has dropped to 37%. Cremation, on the other hand, has increased by 10 points over the same period, from 53% of funeral services to 63%.
Today, 48% of French people prefer a religious ceremony for their funeral. 27% say they do not want any kind of ceremony at all, while 24% opt for a secular ceremony.
Funeral services in France
Since the liberalisation of the industry in 1993, the number of companies in the French funeral industry has been growing steadily since 2008. According to INSEE, in 2019 there were 5,057 companies in the funeral market, 85.5% of which had fewer than 10 employees. This predominance of local and independent companies is tending towards concentration around two major brands: Fuenécap and OGF, the main players dominating the funeral market in France alongside Funeplus, Le choix funéraire and Funeri.
The French funeral market is estimated at 2.5 billion euros. Businesscoot’s report shows that the turnover rate of the French market’s funeral services is increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.06% over the last five years. That growth has risen to 6.3% between 2019 and 2020.
A total of 4.7 million French people have funeral insurance and between 465,000 and 500,000 people take out this type of policy each year. The insurance market has been growing by 5-10% annually and experts expect the figure to continue to rise as the main customer base is over 60 years old and a large part of the target population is still not covered.
French market services and fees
The cost of a funeral service for a burial can vary from 860 euros to almost 4,600 euros. For cremation, prices range from €1,340 to €4,140. A study by Familias Rurales has shown that small companies are more competitive than large groups to the extent that a quote from a franchise network (such as PFG or Roc Eclerc) for a funeral can be almost 400 euros more than the quote from a local funeral home. This difference is not so great when it comes to cremations, where the prices for the same service do not usually exceed a difference of 50 euros.
These price differences in the French market can be explained by the level and quality of services offered, but are sometimes the result of deviant practices. Although the government has regulated that funeral budgets must be itemised, specifying which services are compulsory, optional and for third parties, the fact is that almost 60% of the budgets do not comply with the current regulations.
The products and services offered by French funeral homes have evolved in recent years, with a renewed and diversified offer that follows three main trends
– Low-cost funerals and low-cost services with all the guarantees of quality.
– Green funerals with a wide range of eco-responsible and environmentally friendly services and products, such as eco-certified coffins.
– Finally, most companies are opting for online services and the use of platforms that allow them to compare prices or improve competitiveness, as in the case of World Funeral Net, which offers the possibility of forming part of the largest funeral network in the world.
Main funeral homes in France
The funeral market in France is essentially made up of national players with relatively strong local roots. Although the market is quite competitive with more than 5,000 companies in the business, the tendency is towards concentration around the duopoly formed by OGF, with 25% of the market, and Funécap, with 10%.
OGF is the leading funeral service provider in France, the second largest in the world, and has a quarter of the French market. It is owned by the investment companies Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan and Pamplona Capital Management. With €580 million in turnover between September 2019 and 2020, OGF dominates all activities related to the funeral industry (funeral services, crematorium management, coffin production, funeral monuments…), all through 5,600 employees spread across a network of over a thousand branches throughout France under the brands PFG, Roblot, Henri de Borniol or other local entities.
Funécap is the second largest funeral company in France. It owns another major player in the industry, the Pompes Funèbres Pascal Leclerc brand, and in September 2015, the group acquired the Roc Eclerc franchise network. Since then, Funécap has multiplied its turnover to €300 million in 2017. In France, it has 600 agencies, 180 funeral complexes, performs 55,000 funeral services per year and continues to grow at a rate of 15-20% per year.
Serenium, with a turnover of 45 million euros, is currently the third largest French funeral company in the French market. The Serenium network is present throughout western France, particularly in the Pays de la Loire, Brittany and Normandy regions. The transaction for the acquisition of Serenium by the OGF Group was completed on 10 May 2016. However, Sererium remains a legally, operationally and functionally independent subsidiary.
Le Choix Funéraire
Le Choix Funéraire is a cooperative of 350 small businesses. Its turnover reached €130 million in 2019. It operates in the funeral services and funeral planning markets through 700 reception points serving 26,000 communities and organises an average of 59,000 funeral ceremonies per year. Its business strategy is to differentiate itself from the big players through ‘EcoPlus’ services and low-cost funerals, with rates 50% lower than the industry average.
Services Funéraires de la Ville de Paris
Services Funéraires de la Ville de Paris is the funeral company of the City of Paris. The semi-public company has 14 agencies in Paris operated by 120 employees and its turnover reached €14.5 million in 2015. It offers funeral organisation, thanatopraxy, transport and repatriation of the deceased.