Tower Hamlets Metropolitan Police Service tweeted – “Please do not contact us about the #KFCCrisis – it is not a police matter if your favourite eatery is not serving the menu that you desire.” So what is happening in United Kingdom that the public saw it fit to call the police, as if it was some sort of apocalypse? Here’s the problem – Britain runs out of chicken.
The chicken apocalypse became so serious that the public resort to calling the emergency services – but the local police isn’t impressed. About half the fast food chain’s 900 outlets in UK were still closed on Tuesday night. That was a slight improvement from a day ago on Monday when 575 KFC restaurants were forced to close for business.
Still, KFC believes delivery problems will cause some outlets to remain closed for the rest of the week. The crisis exploded last week on Valentine Day when KFC officially changed its delivery contract to DHL from South African-owned supplier Bidvest. DHL, in turn has blamed “operational issues” for the supply disruption.
KFC, trying to play down the crisis, says – “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.” However, GMB, a union with 631,000 members, has blamed KFC for the chicken apocalypse. GMB claims they had warned KFC that it was a mistake to switchfrom Bidvest to DHL.
GMB officer Mick Rix 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. KFC are left with hundreds of restaurants closed while DHL try and run the whole operation out of one distribution centre. Three weeks ago, KFC knew they had made a terrible mistake, but by then it was too late.”
The new contract awarded to DHL had led to 255 job losses and the closure of a Bidvest depot. But KFC justified that based on DHL’s estimation, winning the KFC contract means the opening of a new distribution centre hence creation of 300 new jobs. While it’s laughable that KFC runs out of chicken, it’s equally amusing that DHL – a global market leader in logistics industry – is hit by logistic nightmare.
An insider said – “Some DHL lorries were sat in traffic for hours and it kick-started a huge backlog of deliveries. They couldn’t get enough drivers together to clear the backlog then in the chaos trucks were delivering wrong stock or out-of-date stock which had to be sent back. It’s a logistical nightmare for DHL. They just didn’t have the set-up to deal with it.”
The DHL depot at Rugby, Warwicks, described as “total mayhem” – with pictures showing thousands of trays of chicken waiting to be loaded on lorries. The crisis becomes disaster when mountain of chicken reportedly sent to waste at DHL depot as the logistics specialist struggles to fix the screw-up. Delivery drivers said their usual 40-minute waits had gone up to 4½ hours.
One KFC worker claimed employees had been asked to go to DHL’s depot to help load lorries. The worker said – “We have basically been asked to do DHL’s job for them.” But what choices do the KFC workers have? They work on zero-hour contract, which means as many as 25,000 staff doesn’t get paid as long as stores stay shut.
While some staffs had been told to “take a holiday”, some desperate workers were caught “smuggling” raw chicken they obtained elsewhere – in a Volvo – through the backdoor of a KFC restaurant in Erith, Kent – in order to keep the business operational. The revelation has sparked concerns about the freshness and quality of KFC chickens sold to the public.
The delivery chaos is costing fast food chain KFC about £1 million a day. While DHL has apologised for the mayhem, sources said KFC may seek up to £30 million in compensation from the logistics company. Obviously, heads have to roll as it’s clearly DHL’s fault that such meltdown happens under the company’s delivery system.
Any business experts and project managers would recommend a deployment of a new system based on “phases”, to minimize disruption and risk factor. However, in the case of KFC new delivery system in Britain, reports were leaked that KFC switched from Bidvest to DHL new delivery system in a “big bang”approach – a complete migration in one go.
Just 4 months ago after the German courier company was awarded the KFC delivery contract, it vowed to “set a new delivery standard”. It boasted – “DHL is also committed to setting a new industry benchmark by delivering outstanding service to all KFC’s restaurants and its consumers. We intend to re-write the rule book and create a stock management, distribution.”
KFC’s internal communications manager Claire Gibson was reportedly urged staff to keep quiet about the embarrassing screw-up. She wrote in a message: “It’s great the public care so much about our chicken but while we are doing our best to sort out everything that is going on we ask that you do not speak with any media.”