Some of the most admired companies in U.S. food retailing are privately owned, regional operators. Chains like Wegmans, H-E-B and Publix might be attractive to equity investors if their stock became available on the public market, but their ownership has chosen instead to maintain the independence and control that come with being privately held. By restricting their shareholders to a limited group, those companies also don't have to navigate some of the other obstacles publicly-owned ...

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