Blackwell’s, the academic bookseller, aims to return to profitability by 2013, and has halved annual losses and launched a text-book rental service.

The retailer said a decentralisation programme and a focus on local management - a John Lewis Partnership-style structure is being developed - helped cut losses to £5.7m in the year to June 26, 2010, compared with £10.2m the previous year.

Turnover dropped by a third to £108m as a result of the disposal of its Australian and North American library supply business.

Blackwell’s chairman Trevor Goul-Wheeker said: “It is important for us to focus our recovery on the UK and Europe. We’re in extremely challenging times with academic cuts and student fees and it’s difficult to know what the future holds.

“Aggressive ecommerce discounting also continues to undermine the viability of bookshops. This demands that bookshops become even more customer focused.”

Blackwell’s owner Toby Blackwell has previously said that he intended to hand over the company’s shares to its employees. Goul-Wheeker said the aim was to do that as soon as the company hits profitability again.

Blackwell’s is also testing a text-book rental service in selected stores and online. Goul-Wheeker said, if successful, it would be rolled out.