JD Wetherspoon is making what has been described as the “biggest wholesale change to the food offer in a decade” as it launches a new menu, which will help it build and protect margins, according to one City analyst. In addition to launching its breakfast menu, the high street managed pub operator is also introducing new dishes to its spring menu such as Moroccan meatballs, torn chicken, chorizo and spinach pasta, and smoked haddock and mozzarella fishcakes. Wayne Brown of Altium Securities told M&C Report that some of the changes would “help the operator gain some of the margin it has lost during the downturn”. Commenting after an analyst tour of JDW sites in London, Brown added: “A key focus is to drive margin expansion in the current year and beyond over and above the current 10% achieved at the interim stage. “The company has already undertaken its annual price-based promotion for the first month of this year as opposed to the first three months of last year and despite this (excluding the impact of the bad weather), like-for-like sales have tracked marginally positive. “This menu not only contains many new line items but there is a strategic shift to phase out the more value-led offers. Whilst these proved very successful in driving volume during the recession they will be integrated within the main menu offer which should also provide the opportunity for some minor price adjustments.” Altium has a target price of 600p for JDW and a buy recommendation. The group, which plans to open 50 new pubs this year – and possibly more through group acquisitions – is set to launch its latest pub, in Hailsham, East Sussex. The George Hotel will open on May 14 – after the group acquired a pub in George Street for an undisclosed sum. JDW is spending £530,000 on redeveloping the site.