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DHL fails to live up to KFC supply chain promise

Only 500 of fast food chain KFC’s 900 UK and Ireland restaurants were open as of 20:00 on Tuesday 20 February, as the company continued to deal with with a food supply problem caused by “operational issues” at delivery firm DHL.

At one stage this week only 254 KFC restaurants were open to the public due to lack of supply, which comes just a matter of months after DHL won the chain’s delivery contract from Bidvest.

KFC, which is keeping the public regularly informed of its restaurants that are open via a dedicated website page, apologised to customers and said staff were “working flat out” to gets operations back to normal

“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,” KFC stated on its website.

“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.”

Last year, DHL said that its deal to manage the physical warehouse and distribution service for KFC would put “greater focus on innovation, quality and service performance”, but after just one week of service it appears the company has already failed on its promise.

“DHL is also committed to setting a new industry benchmark by delivering outstanding service to all KFC’s restaurants and its consumers,” the delivery company stated in October at the time the new arrangement was confirmed.

In an official statement after the distribution problems began, DHL said it was working with KFC and its partners to rectify the situation “as a priority”, and apologised for any inconveniences caused. Trade union GMB accused DHL of penny pinching, saying that Bidvest used a network of distribution centres to service KFC, unlike DHL which has one.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer said: “Bidvest are specialists – a food distribution firm with years of experience. DHL are scratching around for any work they can get, and undercut them.

“It’s an absolute cock up. KFC are left with hundreds of restaurants closed while DHL try and run the whole operation out of one distribution centre – where conditions are an utter shambles.”

Many restaurants are expected to remain closed for days, and Rix even claimed that KFC realised some weeks ago that it had made a mistake by replacing Bidvest with DHL.

Andy Hill, commercial director at Sorted, the delivery experience company, said: “The KFC chicken crisis underlines the importance of not putting all your eggs in one basket and being reliant on one carrier. 

“It is always prudent to have other logistics options available especially as delivery problems are not uncommon when a new supplier is taken on.”