A shredding company owned by a former professional footballer is bouncing back with plans to grow regionally and recruit further personnel after a Covid-hit year.

Shred Direct, owned by Graeme Carter, who was once on the books at Newcastle United, was looking ahead to a positive 2020, with ambitious projections in place.

However, like many regional firms, Graeme was forced to put his plans on hold when the world was plunged into the coronavirus pandemic. The national lockdown also resulted in Graeme furloughing staff and reducing his headcount in a bid to survive.

Now, as the country begins to emerge from its third period under the tightest of restrictions, Graeme has announced his intention to grow his client portfolio and expand his team of drivers.

Graeme, who bases Shred Direct from an office within Novus Business Centre in Peterlee, said: “Last year was incredibly tough. We were forced to trim back our staff numbers and utilise the furough scheme as the work dried up and the plans I’d put in place were very much put on the back burner.

“However, towards the end of the year things did improve and from the start of 2021, despite the fact we have spent most of the time in a third national lockdown, the business has been back up to almost full capacity.

“I am now looking ahead to the remaining three quarters of the year with a renewed optimism and think it’s certainly realistic to be talking about both client and workforce growth.”

Graeme launched Shred Direct in 2013 with the support of East Durham Business Service after working for Premier Waste for a number of years.

Shred Direct’s portfolio of clients now includes a number of major law and accountancy firms, as well as Newcastle United and several NHS medical centres.

Graeme, who is a married dad-of-three and lives in Wheatley Hill, added: “There’s no point in looking back and dwelling on what’s happened. Most businesses were impacted by Covid in one way or another but I can’t help thinking it’s made us all more resilient. To overcome a challenge of this magnitude has certainly made my business stronger and more focused and I know now where my ‘wins’ are and that’s where I’ll be focussing my efforts this year.”

Before working in the recycling industry, Graeme was a central defender with Newcastle United. However he was restricted to just three substitute appearances because of a persistant shoulder injury.