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1 July, 2011 - 12:03 By News Desk

Cat-alyst for growth in US

Sureflap MD Dr Nick Hill

SureFlap Ltd, the Cambridge innovator that has developed a microchip cat flap, is targeting the United States, Australia and Germany in a new export push.

MD Dr Nick Hill said the company had gone from four people a year ago to 11 currently and he expected headcount to continue northwards in the coming months.

He said: “The 300 per cent increase in turnover we achieved last year has enabled us to grow the team significantly in the past six months. Sales continue to grow both in the UK and abroad and we now have country managers in place to target the US and Germany.

“With sales also picking up in Australasia, we plan to have a local presence there too within the next six months.”

The SureFlap microchip cat flap can recognise a cat’s individual microchip, and will only open for cats whose identity is stored. It uses patented low-power RFID technology developed in Cambridge by Dr Hill and runs on 4xAA batteries. Recommended by vets, SureFlap works with 9, 10 and 15 digit microchips and can be programmed to recognise up to 32 cats.

Rapid expansion has led to the promotion of Sandra Zimmermann to European account manager, with a particular focus on German-speaking markets, and the appointment of Becky Roberts as the new business development manager for the US. SureFlap has proved popular with cat lovers internationally. The flap recognises a cat’s unique microchip number and uses it as a personalised door key only opening for the specified animal. Customers have reported happier pets and reductions in their food bills as intruder cats are prevented from entering the home. Zimmerman joined the company last year and has rapidly gained new responsibilities as the company has grown. She had previously worked for a 2,200 strong petrochemical company in Germany, managing a departmental budget of €7m and her expertise has been invaluable in scaling up production of SureFlap to meet market demand. She said: “We are selling well across Europe and I have established a fulfilment centre in Germany to act as a distribution hub. This will support the web shop and offer faster delivery to our retail customers.” Becky Roberts’ focus is the US and she joins from Visual Planet, another British technology-based company that has enjoyed international success.  She originally trained as an electronics engineer with Texas Instruments and brings experience of developing new markets. She is intrigued by the cultural differences in cat ownership. “A soft launch of SureFlap in the US last year has revealed that there are many differences in the way that Europeans and Americans care for their pets. This information has helped us to further develop the product for an international market.”

• Photograph shows: Sureflap MD Dr Nick Hill

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