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Distribution Disruption Causes KFC Chicken Shortage


Friday March 2, 2018

Last week, even the Colonel couldn’t help KFC restaurants in the United Kingdom. Approximately 800 of the 900 KFCs in the U.K. temporarily closed because of a chicken shortage, according to CNN Money.

The supply problem was pinpointed to issues with the restaurant chain’s new distribution partner, DHL. A KFC spokesperson described the issue as “teething problems” related to the transition that happened just a week before. DHL leaders reported that many of its deliveries were incomplete or delayed because of operational issues.   

Although the exact details of this disruption management plan were not outlined in the article, KFC’s explanation to its customers was quick. The restaurant chain first alerted consumers via social media with a post that read, “Some chickens have now crossed the road, the rest are waiting at the Pelican Crossing.” KFC also set up a landing page on its website to report store operations. 

Then KFC purchased a full-page ad in British newspapers to apologize to its clientele. The ad featured an empty chicken bucket with the chain’s initials scrambled to read “FCK,” a nod to an expletive that, in this case, means oops or whoops, along with an apology note. The company continues to offer humor-filled updates via social media. Although 95 percent of the restaurants have reopened, some are still operating with limited menus because of the distribution disruptions. 

Public relations expert Rupert Younger, director of the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation, applauded KFC’s effort to apologize and explain the issue to the public. "It speaks to a business that understand[s] that mistakes were made and they're prepared to have fun at their own expense,” he said. He also told CNN Money that he was impressed that KFC’s ad did not outright blame DHL for the issue. Younger expects that KFC will soon face an increased demand because of its open, authentic and humorous apology. 

I think we can all learn a lesson from KFC here. Disruptions happen, and supply challenges can be a headache for everyone involved. But, while you’re fixing the problem and planning for the future, transparency and a bit of humor can go a long way with your customers. A positive attitude can foster positive relationships going forward. 

Risk and recovery

As KFC recovers from this supply chain challenge, no doubt the restaurant chain will update its disruption management strategy. One potential preventive measure could be to add protective capacity, which the APICS Dictionary defines as, “The resource capacity needed to protect system throughput — ensuring that some capacity above the capacity required to exploit the constraint is available to catch up when disruptions inevitably occur.”

When managing disruptions, it helps to have a risk management plan in place. APICS can equip you with the tools to build a risk management plan to anticipate and recover from disruptions. By participating in APICS Risk Management seminars and elective topic presentations at APICS 2018, you will learn about risk and supply chain management, how to assess and control risk, and more. In addition, earning your APICS Risk Management Education Certificate shows your employer that you are ready to tackle risks for your company. Visit to learn more. 

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