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Yum! Brands' KFC says UK, Ireland outlets hit as supplies run out

KFC, a division of fast-food restaurant operator Yum! Brands Inc., on Feb. 19 said distribution problems meant that the majority of its restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland had run out of chicken, forcing most to close temporarily, offer limited menus or operate reduced trading hours.

The chicken restaurant chain posted on its U.K. and Ireland website a statement that listed about 170 outlets that it said were open as of 1320 GMT on Feb. 19. KFC said it operated a network of 900 branches in the countries, indicating that as many as 730 were closed. It did not provide any indication of how long the disruption would last.

"We've brought a new delivery partner onboard, but they've had a couple of teething problems" getting fresh chicken out to restaurants, according to the statement.

According to an article posted on the BBC website, KFC on Feb. 13 switched its distributor to DHL, part of Deutsche Post AG, from Bidvest Logistics, part of South Africa's Bidvest Group.

"Due to operational issues, a number of deliveries in recent days have been incomplete or delayed," a DHL spokesperson said in a statement emailed to S&P Global Market Intelligence. "We are working with KFC and our partners to rectify the situation as a priority."

KFC, formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, apologized to customers, but said: "We won’t compromise on quality."

Bidvest Logistics also provides logistical and supply chain solutions to Pizza Hut, another unit of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands, which operates about 43,500 restaurants in 135 countries.