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The lesson of the KFC cock up

This article is over 4 years, 5 months old
Issue 2592
Hard cluck - were closed
Hard cluck – we’re closed (Pic: Steve Daniels)

A supply-chain cock up at KFC fast food stores left bosses in a flap on Monday.

Chicken wasn’t delivered to many of the firm’s 900 poultry stores. Some 575 closed—potentially leaving workers unpaid.

The crisis has left bosses pecking their brains. They had changed delivery firms from Bidvest to outsourcers DHL. That bird-brained decision cost 255 jobs.

Now fried chicken bosses have fallen fowl of the consequences.

The story also shows how fragile the bosses’ power is.

Increasingly production and logistics are designed to be just-in-time.

Firms order the exact amount of food they need for a day, it gets delivered, workers cook and serve it. This way, bosses avoid holding stock in storage that they pay ground rent on.

The process makes their businesses more profitable—and more vulnerable. One slip up in the chain leaves the profit machine broken, and bosses with egg on their face.

And the leaner production becomes, the more flavoursome the potential prospects for workers.

Distribution is increasingly concentrated into massive centres, meaning workers have an increasing amount of power. A day’s strike can leave food rotting and bosses’ nest eggs cracked.

Workers have the power to bring the entire system to a halt.

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