* Q3 underlying sales up 17.4%
* Q4 so far underlying sales up 12.6%
* Slowdown reflects impact of new lockdown measures
* Has limited near-term visibility
* Shares down 2.6%, up 35% so far this year (Adds detail, shares)
LONDON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Kingfisher reported another big jump in sales in the third quarter as it benefited from the popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) during the COVID-19 pandemic, though growth slowed in recent weeks due to new lockdown measures.
The home improvement retailer, which owns B&Q and Screwfix in Britain and Castorama and Brico Depot in France and other markets, on Thursday reported a 17.4% rise in like-for-like sales in the third quarter to Oct. 31.
Total sales rose 17.6% on a constant currency basis to 3.5 billion pounds ($4.6 billion).
But it said growth had slowed to 12.6% in the fourth quarter as of Nov. 14, largely reflecting the impact of recent lockdown measures.
Its shares were down 2.6% at 0830 GMT, paring gains for 2020 to 35%.
England started a four-week national lockdown on Nov. 5 and France one on Oct. 30. As it is deemed an essential retailer, Kingfisher’s stores can stay open.
The group cautioned that uncertainty over COVID-19 and the impact of lockdown restrictions in most of its markets was limiting its near-term visibility.
The pandemic has meant people are spending more time at home, have fewer leisure options and are traveling less.
The crisis has also boosted shopping online. Kingfisher’s e-commerce sales soared 153% in the third quarter and now represent 17% of total group sales versus 8% in the same period last year.
“Our growth was supported by strong market demand, as consumers spent more time in their homes and focused on improving them,” said CEO Thierry Garnier.
Kingfisher said that with Britain’s Brexit transition period with the European Union ending on Dec. 31 it has taken measures to mitigate delays at the border as far as possible and to ensure readiness for exporting to Ireland.
$1 = 0.7556 pounds Reporting by James Davey; editing by Sarah Young and Jason Neely
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