After more than a century of ownership, the Hope family is selling up. Michael and Jannette Hope will step down as directors of Hope and Sons funeral services on Friday. Their daughter Jodie will stay on, maintaining the family connection for a fifth generation.
After more than 130 years and four generations of family ownership, Dunedin funeral directors Hope and Sons is going into Australian hands.
On Friday, Michael and Jannette Hope will step down as directors of the company founded by
Mr Hope's great-grandfather John Hope in 1887.
It was bought by Australian funeral company InvoCare last week.
Both Michael and Jannette have been working at the business for more than 30 years.
All current staff will be retained, including their daughter, Jodie, ensuring the family connection moves on to the fifth generation.
By selling the business its future would be guaranteed as it continued to grow, Mr Hope said.
''This has turned into a big organisation since we started. We've got 33 staff in Dunedin and another five or six in Oamaru, so we want to make sure we secure the business for those families.''
It had been a stressful two months as the deal was finalised, but the support from their staff and family meant they knew they were making the right decision, he said.
The way InvoCare ran its other New Zealand businesses, such as John Rhind Funeral Directors in Christchurch, gave both of them confidence the legacy of the business would continue, Mr Hope said.
''They don't tend to come in and rebrand them InvoCare. They stay with their own family identity and individual locations which is very important to us.''
The company conducts about 780 funeral services a year across its six locations in Dunedin, Mosgiel, Palmerston and Oamaru, and generates about $6.8million a year in revenue.
It was a lot easier to step aside when the business was doing well, Mrs Hope said.
''We're not burnt out and we are leaving when the business is doing very well so we haven't gone out looking - the opportunity has just come to us,'' she said.
As part of the deal, the business would in the short term continue its annual charitable donation to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and support of the Hope and Sons Art Awards.
In a statement to the Australian stock exchange, InvoCare chief executive Martin Earp said the Hope and Sons purchase would help the company expand its presence in the South Island beyond existing operations in Nelson, Christchurch and Blenheim.