KFC’s UK operations grind to a halt amid chicken logistics crisis

The United Kingdom operations of fast food giant KFC ground to a halt this week due to a shortage of chicken, with more than 550 outlets still closed at the time of writing.
Around 70% of KFC's stores in the UK have had to close due to a chicken shortage caused by a major supply chain mishap.
Around 70% of KFC's stores in the UK have had to close due to a chicken shortage caused by a major supply chain mishap.

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The United Kingdom operations of fast food giant KFC ground to a halt this week due to a shortage of chicken, with more than 550 outlets still closed at the time of writing.

On Monday, as many as 750 outlets across the UK were shut due to a lack of chicken in a major supply chain fiasco that has caused damage to KFC and the reputation of DHL in the European market.

KFC published a list Monday of only 338 of its 900 stores that were still open. Many were offering a limited menu and restricted opening hours due to the supply chain missteps, which the company says it is working “flat out” to rectify.

The chicken shortage is so severe that KFC cannot say when operations will be back to normal and on Tuesday blamed a new 3PL contract with DHL for the crisis, which is costing more than US $1.5-million per day, according to some estimates.

“We’ve brought a new delivery partner on board, but they’ve had a couple of teething problems – getting fresh chicken out to 900 restaurants across the country is pretty complex,” the statement said.

“We won’t compromise on quality, so no deliveries has meant some of our restaurants are closed and others are operating a limited menu, or shortened hours.”

John Boulter, managing director retail at DHL, has apologised for the interruption of supplies, but pointed out that the logistics giant is not the only partner involved in KFC’s UK supply chain.

“While we are not the only party responsible for the supply chain to KFC, we do apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment caused to KFC and their customers by this incident,” he said. “DHL… is working diligently to rectify the situation by working with KFC and other partners involved in the supply chain.”

“The reasons for this unforeseen interruption of this complex service are being worked on with a goal to return to normal service levels as soon as possible. With the help of our partner QSL, we are committed to step by step improvements to allow KFC to re-open its stores over the coming days,” he added.

KFC’s national logistics had previously been handled by DHL competitor Bidvest Logistics, but the 3PL contract was switched to DHL three weeks ago.

DHL announced in November that it had been appointed alongside QSL to manage the supply and distribution of food products and packaging for more than 850 KFC outlets in the UK.

DHL said it would manage the physical warehouse and distribution service. KFC added it had specifically chosen the pair for their reputation of “innovation in logistics” across other industries.

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