Nando's shuts over 40 UK outlets due to supply chain hit

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Aug 18 (Reuters) - Fast-food chain Nando's has been forced to temporarily close more than 40 outlets in Britain, around 10% of its restaurants, after staff shortages hit its chicken supply chain in the latest blow to the country's hospitality sector.

Retailers, restaurants, cafes and bars have struggled to recruit enough staff in Britain since the economy emerged from COVID lockdowns earlier this year, after workers left the sector and in some cases, the country, following Brexit.

Further restrictions forcing people to isolate if they come into contact with someone carrying the coronavirus have further disrupted supply chains, leaving some shelves empty in supermarkets and some restaurants closing for lunch.

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In response to customers asking why their local Nando's was closed, the South African chain said on Twitter that "the UK supply chain is having a bit of a (night)mare right now."

It also said it was running limited services in some stores because staff needed to complete isolation periods. That requirement should ease after the government relaxed the rules for those fully vaccinated.

Nando's said in a statement it had a team now working with suppliers onsite and it hoped to reopen restaurants by Saturday. Online supermarket Ocado(OCDO.L)said in July its staff had also worked with suppliers to keep operations moving.

Trade group UK Hospitality said in July that supply chain problems were widespread, with around 60% members telling an industry survey they were seeing delays in deliveries, not receiving products or facing major price increases.

Many companies have been hit by a lack of drivers and operators in food processing centres. While new drivers struggled to train and qualify during spells of the pandemic, Britain has also been hit by an exodus of European drivers.

The Road Haulage Association estimates that around 30,000 drivers have stopped operating in Britain since it left the European Union's single market in January.

As a result, companies are having to pay more to attract workers. Official data showed that underlying pay in the accommodation and food services industry jumped by 5.8% in the quarter from April through June, the highest increase of any of the 24 industries listed by the Office for National Statistics.

The Nando's news comes a week after rival fast-food group KFC said it was struggling to stock some items or use its normal packaging due to disruptions in recent weeks.

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Reporting by Kate Holton in London and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler, Guy Faulconbridge and Tomasz Janowski

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