Nando’s shuts dozens of restaurants as chicken shortage ‘not going away’

Poultry supplier sources have told the PA news agency the Home Office needs to introduce emergency changes to EU worker rules.

Henry Saker-Clark
Wednesday 18 August 2021 11:21
(Tim Goode/PA)
(Tim Goode/PA)

Nando’s has shut 45 restaurants after suffering a shortage of chicken as industry suppliers warned supply chain disruption is “not going away”.

The restaurant chain said it had to close sites after it was impacted by staffing shortages at suppliers and reduced numbers of lorry drivers, which have also impacted supermarket shelves in recent weeks.

Signs in restaurant windows blamed a shortage of stock from suppliers while customers were also told online that it was impacted by “isolation periods” among staff.

Nando’s in White City, Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA)

A poultry industry source told the PA news agency that warnings last month that EU worker rules and logistics issues would continue to hit food supply had not been heeded.

“We raised this issue with Government many weeks ago and nothing significant has happened since, so it is clearly not going away,” he said.

“We need new workers to come on board to cope with this demand, and while Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) have been helpful, the issue is with the Home Office

“There are shortages fluctuating between 10% and 20% of staff, so we need some emergency changes get workers overseas who can fill this gap.”

Nando’s said it has seconded around 70 staff to suppliers to help with supply issues, but industry sources said this “will not touch the sides”.

The industry executive added that the “complexity” of requirements for products ordered by the like of Nando’s and KFC means they will face greater levels of disruption from staff shortages than supermarkets.

A Nando’s spokeswoman said: “The UK food industry has been experiencing disruption across its supply chain in recent weeks due to staff shortages and a number of our restaurants have been impacted.

“However, since Monday, a team of our brilliant Nandocas have been supporting our key suppliers onsite – working in partnership to help get things moving again, and this has already had a positive impact on affected restaurants.

“From this Saturday, as a result of the hard work behind the scenes, it is our intention that all of our restaurants will be open again, and all our customers can enjoy their favourite peri-peri chicken.”

The shortages at Nando’s come weeks after rival KFC warned that supply chain issues meant it was unable to stock some menu items.