The GMB union has blamed the ongoing closure of hundreds of KFC outlets across the UK on the fast food chain's "penny-pinching" switch from Bidvest to DHL Supply Chain.

It said that while Bidvest previously ran the contract from a number of depots around the country, DHL was attempting to do it out of just one.

The new operation went live on Tuesday 13 February, and hundreds of stores were forced to close just days later when they ran out of chicken. The closures have since made headlines around the world.

KFC no chicken

The union said that when KFC awarded the contract for warehousing and distribution to DHL last year, the change triggered 255 redundancies at Bidvest and the closure of a depot.

GMB national officer Mick Rix said: "We tried to warn KFC this decision would have consequences – well now the chickens are coming home to roost.

“Bidvest are specialists – a food distribution firm with years of experience. DHL are scratching around for any work they can get, and undercut them.

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“It’s an absolute cock up. KFC are left with hundreds of restaurants closed while DHL try and run the whole operation out of one distribution centre – where conditions are an utter shambles.

“Three weeks ago KFC knew they had made a terrible mistake, but by then it was too late."

DHL had not responded to a request for comment in response to GMB's claims.

Yesterday a spokesman for the firm said: "Due to operational issues a number of deliveries in recent days have been incomplete or delayed.

"We are working with our partners KFC and QSL to rectify the situation as a priority and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”