* Adj profit before tax 397.5 mln stg, up from 287.4 mln stg
* Retail business oper profit 75.7 mln stg vs loss of 101.4 mln stg
* Says energy market is challenging
Nov 14 (Reuters) - British utility SSE Plc said its profit for the first-half rose 38 percent thanks to a strong performance at its retail business.
Adjusted profit before tax for the six months ended Sept. 30 was 397.5 million pounds ($631.66 million), up from 287.4 million pounds a year earlier.
SSE's retail business, which supplies electricity and gas to homes and businesses, reported an operating profit of 75.7 million pounds for the first-half. It posted an operating loss of 101.4 million pounds a year ago.
"The prices achieved for generating electricity have been weak, and higher gas and non-energy costs unfortunately had to be reflected in the increase in household energy prices which SSE implemented last month," SSE said in a statement.
SSE was the first among the six dominant energy distributors in Britain to increase retail energy rates for this winter. Four others followed suit.
Retail energy customer accounts fell marginally to 9.60 million in the six months to Sept. 30, compared with 9.62 million last year.