Last year, fried chicken fans around the UK were left clucking after a computer system malfunction inadvertently disrupted the supply chain of the world’s most famous fried chicken franchise. KFCs across the country were left bereft of birds, leading to the temporary closure of 575 of the nation’s 900 restaurants. It was, for anyone who likes greasy poultry and substandard gravy, a tragedy.
By any measure, the public response to the chicken crisis wavered between the hysterical and the ridiculous. Thousands showed up to get their chicken fix, only to get turned away at the door. Some were so desperate that they decided to call the police. Clearly, the business remain keen to avoid scenes like this ever happening again. However, according to industry experts, last year’s disaster may simply have been a sign of things to come.
According to KFC insiders, there is a strong likelihood of more disruptions affecting the supply chain this year, following the business’ decision to switch back to previous catering supplier Best Food Logistics. This came after previous contract holders DHL decided not to rebid for the business. Given that the change over between these two companies was precisely what caused last year’s calamity, employees are understandably concerned that history is repeating itself.
The initial crisis unfolded over a week, starting on Valentine’s Day 2018. In many ways, KFC were the victims of a perfect anti-chicken storm. Not only did the new bespoke computer system for managing and recording deliveries fail on day one, but a huge accident on the M6 motorway created an unexpected unforeseeable tailback, leaving lorry loads of chicken stranded in the Midlands. The result was chaos.
Given the backlash and complications involved in getting customers’ chicken deliveries slightly wrong, maybe it isn’t all that surprising that DHL decided to pass up on the chance to have another go in 2019. The fact that Best Food also claimed it could undercut the contract, delivering a cage of chicken for £22 compared to £24.50, may have helped finalise the decision. However, business insiders fear that Best Food’s cost cutting approach may well lead to more problems for the chain.
An anonymous source told The Sun newspaper, 'KFC fans should rightly be worried. More disruption awaits.' They also warned that the new delivery routes proposed by Best Food were completely “unrealistic” and that, as a result, “feathers will fly” when the contract is handed over.
When contacted for comment, KFC admitted to The Sun, “We had a tough year and have been working really hard to continue to deliver fresh chicken every day,” adding, “We've decided to switch back to Best Food who have done a great job in supporting us while we got back on track.” Whether or not they will remain so confident in their new business partners once the contract changes hands over remains to be seen.