Giant Food president Joseph B. Danzansky, 63, yesterday relinquished his duties as the company's chief executive to become chairman of the board.

Day-to-day operations of the Washington market's biggest retailer now will be directed by Israel Cohen, 64, who had been executive vice president.

Long-time Giant chairman N.M. Cohen, who is 87, will assume the title of honorary chairman and founder.

The top management changes - and a cluster of related personnel promotions - were announced at Giant's annual stockholders meeting which followed a meeting of the board of directors.

At the meeting, Giant announced sales and earnings for the second quarter and first half of the year, and said they were the best ever.

For the 12 weeks ended Aug. 13, Giant sales increased by 9.4 per cent to $217 million, pre-tax profits jumped 127 per cent to $3,742,000, and net earnings per share climbed by 91 per cent to 65 cents.

For the first 24 weeks of the year, Giant sales were up 8.8 per cent to $431 million, pre-tax profits were up 41 per cent to $8,826,000 and net earnings per share were up 36 per cent to $1.50.

Danzansky noted that Giant Food profits still amount to only 1.14 cents on each dollar of sales, or about 34 cents profit on a $30 basket of groceries.

He said that despite the price-cutting "jeans war," Giant's Pants Corral stores remain the largest retailer of Levi's in Washington, and the Pants Corrals are continuing to show "satisfactory" increases in sales and earnings.

Danzansky said giving up the chief executive's job will free him from daily duties for the first time in 41 years. He said he became "the struggling young lawyer for a struggling young company" in 1944 and served on Giant's board from 1949 until being elected president in 1964.

Since that time, Giant's sales have climbed from less than $200 million a year to nearly $1 billion, and the company has become the 45th largest retailer in the U.S.

He said stepping down as Giant president will give him time to work on "so many things that cry out for attention in our community." Later, in an interview, Danzansky indicated his highest priorities as a public citizen would be the proposed Washington convention center project, of which he is chairman, and "doing something about" unemployment among the city's youth.

Asked by a stockholder whether he would continue his long efforts to bring major league baseball back to Washington, Danzansky replied, "That's not one of the things I'm going to go after like I did before," adding, "I might help my son with his soccer franchise."

Giant founder N. M. Cohen did not attend the meeting and traditionally has shunned the limelight, as has his son Israel, who now will direct the company. A second son, Emanuel Cohen, remains the Number Three man and Giant's vice president-treasurer.

Four other executives were named senior vice presidents at the meeting: Gerson Barnett, 54, grocery operations; Alvin Dobbin, 45, retail operations, personnel and distribution; E. Tilden Kelbaugh, 40, construction; and David B. Sykes, 58, finance and assistant secretary.

Appointed vice presidents were Jeremiah E. Donovan, 41, personnel; Pete Manos, 40, delicatessen; and Samuel Thurston, 34, distribution.