Our story - Andrew Grey Funeral Directors


Andrew Grey Funeral Directors, has been serving families in the Sunderland area since 2011, with four branches across Tyne and Wear.

Andrew’s first experience of funerals came when he was a child, as his parents Syd and Mary were Lay Ministers at the Easington Lane Independent Methodist Church, where they would help conduct services. 

After leaving school, Andrew learned to play the piano and keyboard at the same church, and embarked on a music career which took him around the country. 

He later returned full-time to the northeast and trained as a Funeral Director in 1998 with Scollen & Wright Funeral Service in Sunderland. 

Eventually, with the support of long-term partner Gillian Mason, Andrew set up his own funeral company in Hetton-Le-Hole in a building he renovated himself. 

“I have no immediate plans to retire, I am happy to carry on for as long as I want to  and I now have options for the future.”


With his young son not having the ambition to join the funeral industry, Andrew, who is now Business Principal, began speaking to Funeral Partners back in 2019.

Discussions continued into 2020, however the Covid-19 pandemic meant discussion were put on hold.

Andrew was then contacted by Funeral Partners in August 2023 to revive talks, more than three years after the initial contact.

“At the time, I was really disappointed the sale didn’t happen in 2020, but in hindsight it turned out to be positive that we sold when we did, rather than initially,  as it meant we could get the business into a better place than it was before,” he said.

“John G Hogg Funeral Directors joined Funeral Partners five years ago and John is a good friend of mine. We’ve kept in touch so I was able to talk to him about his experience.”

Andrew admits he was concerned about what people in his community would think about the decision to sell.

“Honestly, I was worried about what the feedback would be, on acquisition day I  sent a long message to friends, colleagues, suppliers and people connected to funerals locally, to let them know what was happening,” he added.

“I know friends of mine have been asked about it and when they explain my thought process, people do understand why I made the choice I did.

“Nobody came to me directly, but I was told people thought I was upping and leaving, but now it barely ever comes up, the community can see it is business as usual and I am still here for all our local families and the community.”

The Logistics

Andrew said his earlier discussions with Funeral Partners prepared him for the due diligence required to complete the sale.

“There’s no getting around the fact there is a lot to do, but for a small to medium size business it isn’t unmanageable, but it may be more than you realise,” he explained.

“My advice would be that if there are things you aren’t sure about, or you think may not reflect the best for the business then be honest and up front; tell them so they can help.

“Don’t hide it and hope they don’t notice as it could create a delay and impact the outcome of the deal.”

The integration process was complicated a little due to timings, the deal was done just days before Andrew was due to go on holiday, but he praised Head of Acquisition Integration David McCarthy for working hard around his schedule.

He urged any owners looking to sell to let their teams know and understand the reasons for the change in the business, it is better to have those conversations to reassure and alleviate questions and any concerns.

He said: “I think it’s very important that the Acquisition Team set out what the former owners, and the team on the ground, can expect from new ways of working with Funeral Partners.

 “This can help the teams get into the right mindset and know that they are going to have to make changes to some of their processes.

“The teams are naturally going to have questions when it comes to being under new ownership, so it’s important they are prepared for what is going to happen, even if it has to be at late notice.

“There is more administration and training, but as long as the team understand the importance of the changes particularly in compliance and regulation, it’s not being done for the sake of it, then that can be seen as a positive. Having a dedicated HR business partner to support with our team members has been so valuable to us.

“I’ve felt comfortable to negotiate on some proposed changes, and have discussion around pricing, but understand the reasoning for the changes to the pricing structure based on local markets and the other Funeral Directors in the network.

“There has been an increased investment in our marketing ensuring our funeral homes are being professionally promoted locally and in the online space, plus being able to increases our involvement with community activity has been welcomed by the team.”

Moving Forward

In the lead up to the acquisition, Andrew and the Acquisitions Team outlined a wish list of investment opportunities that would be required to improve the business including more staff, additional vehicles and changes to his funeral homes.

“All of the agreements which were made about investment have been stuck to,” he said.

“We have doubled the size of our team with three more people, and we have a new fleet whereas we had previously rented our vehicles.

“There was also decoration, refurbishment improvement required across our four offices, and although understandably it took a little time, they were all done and done very well. There were no shortcuts or cheap options taken.

“Now, as a team, we’ve got so much more support from neighbouring funeral directors who are part of Funeral Partners.

“I know now, that if something happened to me tomorrow, the business is in safe hands and would be able to carry on.

“I have no immediate plans to retire, I am happy to carry on for as long as I want to  and I now have options for the future.”

The Result

Andrew said although families wouldn’t notice a difference in the top-class care and support they receive, joining Funeral Partners was a good decision for him, his team and his family.  

“I can’t think of a major change someone who used us before acquisition and afterwards would see,” he said.

“Funeral Partners let us run things as we have always done with families.

“I’ve done what is best for me, best for the business and have taken the future risk down for myself as low as it possibly can be.

“I now have more personal time to spend with my family, go out, walk my dog, and speak to people.

“Also, I am doing more to promote the business positively with my involvement in the community activity, it is a great feeling rather than the weight of the day to day business weighing on my  shoulders.

“Funeral Partners is an apt name, because I do feel like it is a partnership.”

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Interested in becoming a Funeral Partner?

Call either Sam Kershaw (Chief Executive Officer) on

07834 531 822

or Steve Wilkinson (Mergers & Acquisitions Director) on

07528 970 531