(Corrects paragraph 10 to show KFC employee video was a prank)
By Martinne Geller and Lisa Baertlein
LONDON/LOS ANGELES, Feb 28 (Reuters) - 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 percent 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 Feb. 14. 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 percent 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 know for creatively engaging social media-savvy customers, were up 2.7 percent at $82.32 in midday trading. (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)