FIRST it was monkeys. Now it is cats which are helping an entrepreneur to do well with his garden product.
Hartlepool entrepreneur Ray Liddell, 42, has told how a mix of the perfect weather conditions and cat faeces are proving to be the key to economic success.
He has regularly hit the Mail headlines thanks over the years to his product called The Cactus.
They are fitted to fences to make life difficult for intruders – and the most common intruder seems to be cats.
But people only tend to buy them when the weather conditions are right, as Ray explained.
He said: “Seventy per cent of all sales is the prevention of cats coming into gardens.
“If the lady or the man of the house cuts their lawns and they notice cat fouling, they go straight in and order some form of deterrent against it.
“If it is very wet, people are not cutting the grass. If it is very dry, people go out for the day and the grass is not growing.”
“For us to be successful, we need something in between.”
Another issue which had affected the business was the price of oil as it affects the manufacturing cost of the product.
Ray said: “Oil prices affects the manufacturing cost as it is an oil-based product. It can make a massive difference.
“Going back six months, it was £1 a kilo and now it is £1.40 a kilo so it is not just the man at the petrol pump who is affected.”
Ray first hit the headlines in 2009 when his Hartlepool-based company Cactus Products won the Mail-backed If we can, you can competition.
Since then, we have told how the product has been in demand all over the world.
In 2009, we revealed how residents in Gibraltar were ordering the product because the local Barbary Macaque monkey population started stealing underpants from their washing lines.
Ray said at the time: “I have had six orders from Gibraltar alone for more than 400 strips, and they all seem to be to keep the monkeys out of the gardens.
“They are everywhere. People were coming home and finding the monkeys had pinched their washing.”
Locals were watching as the monkeys were running down the street with their smalls, said Ray.
Now, customers come from Malta, Cyprus and Ireland. Sales are also going well in Germany, Holland and Spain.