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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Feathers fly as chicken shortage shuts KFC diners across Britain

Less than a third of the country’s 900 outlets remain open and questions have been raised by MPs

One of the hundreds of closed KFC fast food stores across the United Kingdom is seen in south London. The fast food chain KFC has been forced to close many restaurants in Britain because of a new supplier failing to deliver chicken in time. AFP/BEN STANSALL
One of the hundreds of closed KFC fast food stores across the United Kingdom is seen in south London. The fast food chain KFC has been forced to close many restaurants in Britain because of a new supplier failing to deliver chicken in time. AFP/BEN STANSALL

Fast-food fans were in a flutter on Monday after most of the 900 Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets in the United Kingdom and Ireland were forced to close because of a shortage of chicken.

The company apologised to customers, blaming “teething problems” with its new delivery partner, DHL.

KFC first publicly recognised the problems on Saturday. In an update on Monday, it listed almost 300 diners as open — just over a third — but did not say when the rest might join them.

According to London’s Evening Standard newspaper, there were only 20 branches left open in the capital, a hotspot for the global chain’s ‘finger-licking’ chicken.

It said those branches that remained open were operating a limited menu or shortened hours.

“We know that this might have inconvenienced some of you over the last few days, and disappointed you when you wanted your fried chicken fix — we’re really sorry about that,” the company said in a statement.

It has set up a special webpage where customers can discover where the nearest open store is to them.

Social media has been electrified by the poultry panic, with Britons’ traditional reserve and sangfroid being jettisoned as they miss out on their favourite fast food.

The crisis has even reached into the corridors of Westminster, after London Labour MP Neil Coyle tweeted that constituents had been in touch: “I’ve been contacted by disappointed #KFC customers on Borough High St #SE1 & Walworth Rd #SE17 today”.

Mick Rix, the leader of the GMB union, which represents workers in the retail and distribution industries, claimed that the company and been told there could be a problem: “We tried to warn KFC this decision would have consequences — well now the chickens are coming home to roost. Three weeks ago they knew they had made a terrible mistake, but by then it was too late.”

DHL, which recently took over the KFC contract from Bidvest Logistics, said that “due to operational issues a number of deliveries in recent days have been incomplete or delayed”.

When DHL announced in October that it had won the KFC contract alongside logistics company QSL, it promised to “re-write the rule book and set a new benchmark for delivering fresh products to KFC in a sustainable way”. It certainly looks like they have done that.