On Valentine’s day, Wednesday, 14 February 2018, KFC UK switched its chicken delivery operations from Bidvest Logistics to the new combination of DHL and QSL. Right from the start, deliveries were either too slow or incomplete, resulting in a major disruption in the chicken supply chain. On Friday 16 February, KFC was forced to temporarily close most of its UK outlets. (Locations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have not been affected due to different logistical arrangements.)
About a month later, after the initial firefighting, KFC decided to go back to its previous specialised partner, Bidvest, to serve one part of its UK restaurant network. In March 2019, KFC terminated the relation with DHL and QSL, replacing it fully with Bidvest (now named Best Food Logistics). The case demonstrates that even when a supplier transition is extensively analysed and prepared for, the proficiency of the actual operations on the ‘shop floor’ are key to making it a success; particularly in high-volume and customised, complex logistics processes such as fresh food distribution. The case also demonstrates the significance of industry-specific expertise of suppliers, and of suppliers being able to work together in the case of highly interdependent service activities.

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Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Rozemeijer, F, & Wynstra, J.Y.F. (2020). KFC UK: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch. RSM Case Development Centre. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/128159

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