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At KFC's UK restaurants, it's not all gravy

A Yum Brands Inc spokesman said 97% of the region’s KFC restaurants are open, but are now experiencing gravy supply disruptions.

Pedestrians pass outside a closed KFC fast food store in south London on 19 February 2018 as the US fast food chain said it had been forced to close many restaurants in Britain because of a new supplier failing to deliver chicken in time. Picture: AFP

LONDON/LOS ANGELES - Yum Brands Inc said on Wednesday it is offering limited menus at its reopened UK KFC restaurants after a chicken supply snafu with a new delivery firm, but now there is a gravy shortage.

The crisis in the UK market that accounted for roughly 3% of Yum’s global system sales in 2017 comes as a business turnaround at the fried chicken chain was taking hold.

KFC, which has 900 restaurants in the UK and Ireland, switched its delivery contract from Bidvest Logistics to DHL on 14 February.

Shortly after, the chain closed hundreds of restaurants in the region due to “teething” problems at DHL.

A Yum spokesman said on Wednesday that 97% of the region’s KFC restaurants are open, but are now experiencing gravy supply disruptions. The spokesman did not immediately comment on the financial impact of the closures.

“Due to the ongoing distribution challenges DHL is experiencing, some restaurants are continuing to serve a reduced menu,” a spokesman said. “We’re working as hard as we can to get this sorted out. We know that our gravy is a big favourite!”

The chain has apologized to customers, running a newspaper ad showing a photo of a chicken bucket with the KFC logo letters rearranged to read “FCK.” The accompanying text read: “WE‘RE SORRY. A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal ... Thank you for bearing with us.”

It has invited Twitter users in the UK and Ireland to click on #WheresMyChicken to find their nearest open KFC.
A Twitter post for the police in Whitefield, Manchester, read: “For those who contacted the Police about KFC being out of chicken ... please STOP. Their website says the Prestwich store is now open if you want to follow the four police cars through the drive-thru.”

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm whether customers were indeed contacting local police.

Elsewhere, thousands of Twitter users shared a fake video of two men in full KFC uniforms buying chicken at an Asda supermarket. In the video, when a man off-camera questions the pretend workers about the purchases, one responded: “Chicken is chicken, you know ... You’re still getting KFC chicken at the end of the day.”

Shares in Yum, whose brands are known for creatively engaging social media-savvy customers, were up 2.7% at $82.32 in midday trading.

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