New Delhi: Guess where luxury brands like Biba, Sabhyata, Mufti and Bossini are headed? Bihar's capital Patna, which has undergone a major image change in the last six years since Nitish Kumar became the state's Chief Minister.

The latest hub of international and national luxury brands is the P&M mall, owned by Bollywood filmmaker Prakash Jha who belongs to Bihar's West Champaran area.

The World Bank, in its 2009 report, has ranked Patna as the second best city after New Delhi to start business in India, said Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland.

"Patna airport is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Ranchi. It's categorised as a restricted international airport with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights. It's also an important business centre of eastern India," Singh told the media person.

"The economy of Patna has seen sustained growth. In particular the economy has been spurred by growth in fast moving consumer goods along with Green Revolution businesses. We believe Woodland has great potential to grow in the city," he added.

Lalit Kishore, managing director of Lotto Licensee Sports lifestyle Pvt Lt, says the city's great business proposition inspired them to take an instant step to open two stores in just a year's time and one of them is in the mall.

"We had been present in Patna through the distribution network for a few years and we received a good response. Seeing the performance, we opened up two stores subsequently," he said.

Built in Pataliputra colony, P&M has retail shops, Big Bazaar, a four-screen multiplex, food court and plenty of parking spaces.

Whether you are looking for branded and stylish traditional salwar-kameezes, saris or lehengas, -- you can chose from popular brands Biba, Sabhyata and Meena Bazaar. If you have a penchant for western clothes, Wills Lifestyle, Mufti, and Bossini are there to choose from.

As far as footwear is concerned, you have Woodland and Lotto and many more will open in the city soon.

The four-screen multiplex, opened by Cinepolis, a Mexican cinema chain, runs 22 shows a day including Hollywood, Bollywood and regional movies and the tickets are priced at Rs.100 for morning shows and at Rs.160 and Rs.180 for the rest of the day.

"The idea behind the mall was to try and bring the best practices here. Malls have been in India for the past 12 years, but in Bihar this was still unknown territory. So the whole idea was to open the mall and bring good things to the place," said Prakash Jha, who also plans to open one in Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.

The people have become more fashion-conscious and that's why brands are showing interest, said Atul Chand, divisional chief executive of ITC's Lifestyle Retailing Business Division.

"There are a large number of working women emerging and therefore people not only know about fashion but also express themselves in a better way. There are also incomes to back changing tastes.

"We are satisfied with the business. The mall has been well received and we are certainly thinking of increasing the reach. Dussehra and Diwali are termed grand festivals in Patna; so we are going to see business increasing like never before," Chand said.

The local people have responded overwhelmingly to the mall, said a stall owner in the shopping centre.

"People are really excited about the first mall in the state. During daytime youngsters, mostly students, flock the shopping arena, but after six in the evening, you get to see a lot of family crowd trickling in," Prashant Kumar said.

Pooja Jha, who runs a kebab stall, said: "We have got an awesome response."

Abhishek Dubey, manager of the Mad About China eatery, said: "People prefer having lunch or dinner after movies."

The hotspot among youngsters is the Cafe Coffee Day (CCD), an ideal rendezvous for youngsters, especially couples who have a place to sit and spend some quality time.

"We waited so long for the CCD. The first one came at Regent Cinema in Gandhi Maidan and it was a hit and now we have one in the mall. It's a perfect place for us to meet and chat. We see a lot of couples also. Earlier, the couples used to end up in restaurants where you end up eating, but no quality time. But this CCD is a boon for them," said Priya Kumar, a post-graduate student.

Thanks to the positive response, other brands have been inspired to open outlets.

"Yes, I feel that business will evolve in cities like Patna because the sense of fashion is really growing. There is a good scope for expansion. Though we do not have an immediate plan to open a store, we will be considering the option sooner," said Anubhav Jain, director of jewellery brand Silverline.

(Agencies)