From past to present...

Photo © Copyright 2002


A year of preparations, then the adventure: Till Lincke and Beat Stünzi embark on a long journey through Africa in a Land Rover. After their return, they found Trans-Sahara together with Jakob Huber. Their aim is to organise authentic trips to Africa, source special expedition equipment for other desert travellers and install it in their vehicles.


When the real story of Transa begins: the SSR (Swiss Student Travel Office) and other specialised tour operators send Transa its first paying customers for desert tours. The three founders take the travellers on an adventure through Africa. A second Land Rover is quickly organised, equipped and packed. A little later, the journey starts, with Till, Beat and Mike Boxer behind the wheel.


The idea of an association is born in Till Lincke and Beat Stünzi’s shared flat on Spiegelgasse in Zurich. Trans-Sahara becomes ‘Transa – association for the promotion of alternative tourism’. The association’s motto is to be receptive to the sustainable exploration of all continents across the globe and openly engage with the customs and conditions of host countries. As there are no providers of equipment for outdoor tours through the Sahara at this time, Transa begins to source and sell expedition equipment. Its first products are sand ladders, spare parts kits, roof racks and special tanks for Land Rovers. These are installed in customer vehicles in Transa’s own mechanical workshop. In addition, Transa organises repair courses for desert travellers.


New brands from the New World are needed, so Beat Stünzi and Ulrich Dausien set off on a trip to America with the aim of finding innovative travel and outdoor equipment for exclusive sale in Switzerland. Only the best will do: the best brands and the best design. Twenty US manufacturers sign contracts with Transa – enough for them to open their first real shop on Josefstrasse in Zurich.


When they aren’t travelling themselves, they’re busy teaching others how to do it: Beat Stünzi, Till Lincke and Beat Vogt organise preparation courses for desert travellers. Transa becomes a wholesaler and takes over representation for The North Face. The future is also the subject of many a lengthy discussion – whether outdoor clothing or shoes should be included in the range. Both are ultimately approved. If you have so much to offer, you want to share it with as many as possible, and so a second shop opens in Bern.


Transa is coming out of its infancy. It is slowly growing and the discussions are also getting more important: how should Transa be organised, managed and marketed? The association becomes a joint-stock company, the Transa team become shareholders. Further Transa stores are opened in Basel and St. Gallen. The experience gained while travelling is passed on to a growing number of customers and lays peerless groundwork for in-house manufacturing. Transa acquires a stake in the Irish company Transbach and produces backpacks under the name ‘Bach’, which are now a household name worldwide.


Transa specialises in outdoor and travel activities; it’s out with the Land Rover, in with the mountain bike. The entire Land Rover range is replaced by bikes and cycling accessories.


Transa is in tune with the spirit of the times with its bike range. The range’s establishment is quickly followed by its expansion: bike shops open in Zurich, Basel, St. Gallen and Baar. The selection becomes larger and Transa becomes the first port of call for premium bikes and equipment. In 1992, the subsidiary ‘Outdoor Trading AG’ is founded, a wholesaler of outdoor equipment.


Travel & outdoor activities are just as much a hobby as a profession for all Transa employees. Customers need to feel this too, so employees’ joy and enthusiasm is translated into a new corporate design programme. The spirit of innovation is contagious: the Shop Design and IT divisions also start to change.


Basel gets a huge new Transa store. A former garage is converted into a travel, outdoor and bike centre.

Photo © Jonas Jäggy


Further store projects follow. A new store is opened in Lucerne, while the Zurich and Berne stores are remodelled. In 2000, Outdoor Trading AG becomes a franchising partner for Jack Wolfskin stores in Switzerland. In 2001, Transa starts working with Globetrotter Travel Service (CH). Various marketing activities converge. In the summer of 2004, the Lucerne store is forced to close briefly after a fire.


The St. Gallen store relocates to Bahnhofstrasse 10. In winter, the first ‘Transa Winter Festival’ takes place on the Engstligenalp plateau, where 120 customers ring in winter together with Transa course instructors. The new claim, ‘Raus. Aber richtig.’ (or, in English: Outdoors. Done right.) which now appears under the Transa logo, is also fitting. The 2006 Transa Handbook achieves an incredible circulation of 150,000 copies.


In autumn 2007, Transa celebrates its 30th anniversary. In spring 2008, Philipp Schnell replaces Lukas Arnold, who had been Managing Director for many years. The sixth Transa Travel & Outdoor store opens in Winterthur with a completely new look, and the Transa Outlet is opened on Zollstrasse in Zurich.


Globetrotter Ausrüstung (Germany) acquires a stake in Transa, allowing synergies to be utilised: this stake makes it easier to develop the store concept for Europaallee or to adapt the 4-Seasons Germany magazine for Swiss readers. The first issue of Transa’s outdoor magazine, 4-Seasons.ch, is released in autumn. As part of the international ‘Euro Family’ association, Transa can incorporate its many years of outdoor and travel experience into the development and production of functional clothing, backpacks and sleeping bags. The first official repair centre also opens in Winterthur.


The Transa Winter Festival on the Glaubenberg – an event that demonstrates that sport can be practised without conflict, even within delicate landscapes – receives the ecosport.ch award from the Swiss Olympic Association. This award stands for exemplary commitment to the environment and sustainability. In Basel, the store at Aeschengraben 13 is completely renovated. In addition, a new Transa store opens right next door at Aeschengraben 9. Together, the two stores represent a sales floor of 1,600 m² and thus offer the largest selection of outdoor goods in north-west Switzerland. After a trial in Basel, the strategic decision is made to expand the Alpine range. This starts with just the Basel store, with Zurich being added later on. Customers can now earn TransaCard points in all stores.


Transa wins another award: the ‘Prix Balance’ Zurich. The reason being that the vast majority of employees at Transa work part-time – which sends a message that people need a good balance between travel, leisure, family and work. The new visual campaign ‘For big and small adventures’ in collaboration with the Ruf Lanz agency takes the advertising world by storm. There is also a change in senior management at Transa: Daniel Humbel, previously CEO of Outdoor Trading AG, additionally takes over the management of Transa Backpacking AG in autumn.


This year is a big one for Transa: in Zurich, the 3,000 m² Transa flagship store at Zurich main station opens along with the first construction phase of Europaallee. The necessary staff are recruited through guerrilla marketing, with 50 wooden signs with tear-off slips placed throughout Zurich city centre. Of course, it causes trouble, the press reports on it – and Transa receives an enormous number of applications. The first shop-in-shop is opened: the Arc’teryx shop in the Transa store. Transa Books and the Globetrotter Switzerland Travel Agency are also opened. Transa gains a blue-and-white addition on four wheels, too: a T1 VW bus named ‘Ferdinand’ (dating from 1956). It is used in lots of marketing activities, inspires everyone involved and features in many a photo. The first Transa overland trip also takes place this year – to Kathmandu.


The flagship store in Zurich gets off to a very successful start. The boost provided by the store in Zurich’s Europaallee also heralds the restructuring and modernisation of the company’s administration; processes are simplified and made more efficient. The store in Bern is remodelled. Since the customer magazine 4-Seasons.ch is so popular, it is expanded to four issues per year.


In February 2014, the Transa sustainability pillar is presented for the first time at the eco trade fair in Basel. The pillar includes information on various aspects of sustainability. This year, Transa carries out three important promotions. At the beginning of the year, the focus is on Scandinavia. In autumn, Transa gets back to its roots and squarely devotes its attention to Africa. Fittingly, the second Transa overland trip also takes place at the same time as the Africa promotion – across Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town. Transa reaches further milestones with the opening of the Transa climbing store in the Winterthur 6a plus climbing gym, as well as the Arc’teryx shop in Basel. The launch of the new online shop, which can be seen as a virtual Transa store, is also worth mentioning.

Photo © Dani Ammann


The year that brings change. But let’s cover the main events first. In February, the Transa Igloo Festival takes place. In summer, Swiss Parks visits Transa; for more than three months, visitors can find out about the 19 most pristine natural and cultural landscapes in every Transa store. From November, Transa delves into the topic of snow & safety for the second time, with the focus on safety and prevention in winter sports. And now to the changes: Transa gains a new majority shareholder in Beat Zaugg, who purchases the shares through his newly founded company, International Retail Corporation SA. The founders thus find a sustainable solution for the continuation of Transa. As part of the change, Transa’s Board of Directors also decides to sell Outdoor Trading AG to the company’s head of sales, Jürg Lüthi, and private investors from his personal circle as of 20 August 2015.


This year, Transa takes care of a matter close to its heart: together with its friends at Spatz and Segelklinik, Transa supports the successor organisation to ‘Spatz Camping & Outdoor AG’, which had previously gone bankrupt. Thanks to the newly founded ‘SPATZ Zelte & Reparaturen AG’, the time-honoured brand lives on and continues to produce top-quality Swiss tents. Internally, Transa focuses on process optimisation and the introduction of a new ERP system so that it is prepared for the future. In addition, the takeover of the Lucerne-based climbing specialist ‘Rockstore’ sees Transa join forces with this company, bolstering its mountain sports prowess within the Lucerne region. The climbing store in Root, which supplements the store in Lucerne until its closure in 2023, also opens. The icing on the cake this year is the new collaboration with ‘Cabaret Divertimento’, whose video clips are a resounding success in cinemas and on social media.


In 1977, the Transa story began in Africa, to where we return in 2017 – Namibia, to be specific. The trip takes a Transa team on a 10-day journey through the most beautiful areas of the southwest African country – into the wilderness, sleeping under the starry desert sky and, of course, with plenty of cycling, climbing and hiking action. In June, the corresponding Transa base camp information days take place at the Europaallee store in Zurich with first-hand talks about the adventure. The Lucerne store reopens the same month, with twice as much space and an inner courtyard with a bouldering wall.
A further highlight this year: Transa’s 40th birthday! The company celebrates its 40th anniversary where it belongs: surrounded by nature at the Transa Outdoor Festival. At this celebration, perfectly located in the mountains of Flims-Laax-Falera, employees and customers enjoy various cycling, climbing, trekking and bushcraft activities together, listen to talks and stories around the campfire, and have an unforgettable time with the team and other customers – a perfect opportunity to create stories that can be passed on for the next 40 years. In addition, 17 selected, exclusive and strictly limited products, such as the world’s first blue Hilleberg tent, go on sale in all stores to mark the occasion.


Exactly 10 years after the Transa store in Winti opened, a festive reopening takes place on 25 and 26 May 2018. The store now has a new mountain sports area, including a specially designed bouldering cube. The online shop also continues to develop and an outlet range is added. In August, Transa takes over Kundalini GmbH. This ski touring and freeride specialist gives even more heft to Transa’s ‘winter mountain sports’ area.

Photo © Ruedi Thomi


A jam-packed year for Transa, with two clear highlights: our online platform takes centre stage in the first quarter, and we go live with our website, www.transa.ch, in June.

In October, the time finally comes for us to open our newest Transa store in Markthalle Bern. More than 40 employees are sought for the new store. The first round of interviews takes place indoors over drinks and nibbles. The second round is then held outdoors with 10 potential and 10 current employees. Who do I connect with best? Who brings what knowledge and skills to the table? Who do I like to laugh with and who would I like to have by my side? These questions are taken into account during recruitment. We now also start offering our full range of travel, adventure and outdoor goods as well as the new mountain sports and kids’ ranges on 2,400 square metres of retail space in Bern. Additionally, we extend and expand our range of services to include a new alterations workshop and a hire station, among other things. In Bern, customers can hire everything from via ferrata sets to ski touring skis. A unique space with a café & bar is also created, spanning around 130 square metres. Here, the main focus is on bringing people together, which is why we firmly believe in using employees from the store to run the café.


The year the shops suddenly close – through no fault of Transa, but due to COVID-19. We, too, have to shut our stores as a result and many Transa employees’ working hours are reduced. The Markthalle in Bern closes again a only few months after it opened. Customers are still able to shop online, which was opened in 2019. However, they cannot receive any personal advice via this method, so an online chat is quickly set up to facilitate dialogue.
Our customer magazine is given a new look during this time.

Everyone is happy when our stores open up again after the two lockdowns. ‘Raus. Aber richtig.’ (Outdoors. Done right.) – more and more people start to follow this motto, since our country has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Our customers experience adventures in Switzerland without having to travel far at all. 


COVID-19 is not quite over yet, so customers and Transa employees have to wear masks in our stores and social distancing has to be observed. The desire to travel slowly returns, everyone is allowed to journey to faraway places again – and we have the right travel gear ready. The time is used to start remodelling the office. The repair workshop in Oberuzwil achieves a milestone. After passing GORE-TEX® test orders with flying colours, Transa becomes an official Gore-Tex service partner: one of just three in Switzerland.

Photo © Ruedi Thomi


The office at Josefstrasse 59, where almost 100 people work, has a shiny new look. The building is the first in Europe to be remodelled with zero waste. Together with Insitu, we save 82 tonnes of CO₂ during the works. The takeover of outdoor specialist Yosemite is scheduled for May 2022. From 2 May 2022, Yosemite SA is wholly owned by Transa Backpacking AG, opening the doors to French-speaking Switzerland for Transa. Yosemite continues to operate under its brand name and its shops in Lausanne, Vevey and Zermatt remain open, while the employment contracts with Yosemite’s 35 employees stay unchanged. The community also grows online, with the company having more than 10,000 followers on Instagram for the first time.


Transa stands for durability and repairing is in our DNA – for more than 40 years, its Travel and Outdoor brand has focused on not only selling but also repairing outdoor equipment. The Zurich and Bern stores have always had an in-store repair workshop. Since 2023, there has been a new repair workshop where repairs and cleaning are carried out: Transa moves into its new 600 m² repair workshop in the centre of Altstetten and opens it at the same time as Werkstadt Zürich, the former SBB workshop site, is launched.

We also renovate and refurbish the Zurich outlet. Our small stores are just as important to us as the large ones. Nevertheless, after more than six years, the Transa Pilatus Indoor climbing store in Root D4 closes on 31 March 2023. This means that there is now only one Transa climbing store, located in the 6a Plus climbing gym in Winterthur.

And there is also a little anniversary to celebrate: in summer 2023, we mark the 50th issue of the 4-Seasons customer magazine with a special edition on the repair workshop.

For the first time, there is a four-part series on internal topics in 4-Seasons. We report on our years of transformation into an organisation structured in circles, based on Sociocracy 3.0. The biggest step: the traditional management function is divided into three roles (money, people and strategy) within the management circle. There will be many more reports on our organisational development in the future.


Our new website goes live. With a focus on merging content and commerce, we also want to advise and sell our products digitally from 2024 onwards.

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