KFC found itself on Tuesday in the throes of a widespread chicken shortage for a third day running, after a hiccup in its supply chain forced half of its 900 outlets in Britain to close, according to the New York Times.
Chicken shops abound in Britain, the largest European market for fast-food chicken according to Euromonitor International. It is the fifth-biggest market for KFC, representing about 6 percent of its roughly USD24.5bn in global sales last year. British chicken shops range from high-end rotisseries to dozens of KFC-inspired imitators covering enough American states that one data scientist put together a map of them.
Last week, the chain switched its delivery contract to DHL, owned by Germany’s Deutsche Post, which blamed “operational issues” for the delays. Until recently, supplies had been delivered to KFC restaurants by the South African-owned distributor Bidvest.
John Boulter, a managing director for DHL, said in a statement that the company was working hard with another partner in the supply chain, QSL, to rectify the “unforeseen interruption of this complex service.” According to the New York Times, he added that, “Whilst we are not the only party responsible for the supply chain to KFC, we do apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment caused to KFC and their customers by this incident.”
The shortage is a major logistical failure for KFC in one of its largest markets. The chain, owned by Yum Brands, said its new delivery partner was experiencing “a couple of teething problems.” Getting fresh chicken to 900 outlets across the country, KFC added, “is pretty complex!”
KFC said in a statement: “We feel for those who lost their jobs at Bidvest; the decision to change supplier wasn’t taken lightly. DHL have estimated that winning the KFC contract and opening the new distribution center has created 300 new jobs.”
KFC said that in the restaurants that it owned directly, it would pay salaried employees as normal, and workers on short-term contracts according to the average hours they had worked each day over the past 12 weeks. But franchisees, who run about 80 percent of its restaurants in Britain, would not have to adopt this policy.