Book specialist Blackwell cut losses in half in 2010 as its decentralisation programme began to take effect.

Blackwell’s losses reduuced from £10.2m in 2009 to £5.7m last year, towards the end of which the retailer adopted a decentralisation programme, empowering stores and shutting its head office.

Blackwell chairman Trevor Goul-Wheeker said: “It is imperative that Blackwell’s returns to profitability in the next couple of years, so I am pleased that the company made solid progress by halving its trading losses in a difficult year for the UK book market.”

Goul-Wheeker said that aggressive online discounting continues to threaten the books sector. He said: “This demands that booksellers become even more customer-focused and strengthens Blackwell’s commitment to continuing our strategy of decentralisation and local ownership.”

He maintained that online competition in the sector meant that stocking a wide range was key for book stores. Goul-Wheeker said market conditions remain tough in the UK. The retailer is watching demand for student books closely as spending cuts and tuition fee changes kick in.