Nando’s has said that it hopes to reopen all of its restaurants by this weekend, after 45 were closed because of a shortage of chicken caused by staffing problems at key suppliers.
Many of the restaurants were forced to close due to the effects of staff shortages at supply factories and reduced numbers of lorry drivers.
The restaurant chain said that since Monday, a team of 70 of its workers had been seconded to key suppliers, to help to box and pack products.
In a statement, a Nando’s spokesperson 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 [employees of Nandos] 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.
“It is our intention to have all of our restaurants up and trading again from this Saturday as a result of the hard work behind the scenes, and we look forward to welcoming our customers back to enjoy their favourite Peri-Peri chicken.”
However, industry sources told the PA news agency that the seconded workers would not be enough to fill the gaps in staffing.
The source said that the added “complexity” of the requirements of restaurants like Nando’s – making products such as their popular Peri-Peri chicken – meant they would face higher levels of supply disruption than other consumer-facing retailers, such as supermarkets.
While Nando’s said that Covid-related factors – like the “pingdemic” – had compounded issues in the UK food industry, the restaurant chain did not explicitly name Brexit as a factor.
But other companies, such as Avara Foods, a chicken and turkey purveyor that supplies large supermarkets and restaurants across the UK, said on Thursday that their own current supply-chain issues were “a result of Brexit”.
In a statement to Sky News, the company said: “Our company is not experiencing any significant inconvenience regarding the ‘pingdemic’. Colleague isolations, relative to our size, are low.
“Our concern is recruitment and filling vacancies when the UK workforce has been severely depleted as a result of Brexit; this is causing stress on UK supply chains in multiple sectors.”
The statement added: “Labour availability is an issue totally separate to the pandemic, and one that has the potential to affect UK food manufacturing for a lot longer.”