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KFC’s Big Screw-Up Left Restaurants Without Chicken

This is what a supply chain breakdown looks like.
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Photographer: Caroline Tompkins for Bloomberg Businessweek

Ruari Lee didn’t care about supply chains, distribution centers, logistics, or any of the finer points of the globalized economy. All he wanted was his regular chicken fillet burger meal at KFC. But the restaurant operator’s shop in Kendal, a town in northern England, had been closed four days that week in mid-February, like many of the other U.K. restaurants belonging to the chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. The reason for the shutdown: There was no chicken.

“It’s ridiculous,” says Lee, who dropped by the reopened store on Feb. 23 after work. It’s also a telling sign of the need for reliable supply chains, the often overlooked systems that can make—or break—a business’s ability to operate smoothly.