First chicken, now this? A new twist in KFC’s supply-chain breakdown from hell has left its British locations without gravy. Last week, a delivery snafu of truly remarkable proportions created a chainwide chicken shortage — a “FCK”-up, the chain eventually quipped, that forced about 700 of its 900 U.K. locations to close. KFC initially tried diffusing the mess with a “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants” joke, before realizing that dad humor does not work on hangry Brits.
KFC’s derailed gravy train is the cherry on top of the debacle. The culprit is actually its brand-new delivery partner, DHL, which KFC hired to get around paying the premium they paid the food-distribution specialist they’d worked with for years. DHL quickly suffered what the chain termed “teething problems”: It decided that all meat would be dispatched from a central hub in the town of Rugby, but according to a new Businessweek inside account, failed to give the delivery drivers there any instructions. Apparently, they “idled for hours,” costing KFC millions of dollars in spoiled chicken and other lost sales.
However, the gravy snafu is harder for customers to swallow as merely more fallout from said “operational issues.” They’ve been blasting the chain all week after learning that the menu at just-reopened locations might be heavily reduced. One put a sign out front describing what was available; it included lettuce, Pepsi, forks, and coleslaw.
KFC wasted no time addressing the gravy issue. “We’re working as hard as we can to get this sorted out,” a statement released late yesterday says, forgoing any attempt at humor this time. KFC offered no timeline on that, but reassured customers that they felt their pain: “We know that our gravy is a big favorite!”