Conex, French leader in software solutions for customs and security procedures management, opens its capital to 21 Invest France to accelerate its development in France and internationally

21 Invest supports the company in its dynamic of expansion with an acquisition of a majority stake through its 6th generation of Funds. Alban and Bertrand Gruson, founders of the software publisher, are reinvesting significantly to drive an ambitious growth strategy for the years to come.

For nearly 40 years, Conex has supported companies involved in international trade, shippers and Registered Customs Representatives in optimizing their customs procedures through specialized software and associated services. The family-owned group holds more than two-thirds of the market in France, thanks to its historical expertise, its comprehensive range of solutions and its tailor-made offerings.

At the heart of the modernization of customs processes, Conex offers a digital platform dedicated to the processing of all types of customs and security declarations, and ensures the electronic exchange of data between private parties (suppliers, customers) and customs authorities in France and abroad.

Conex has established itself as an essential intermediary in the customs panorama for SMEs and multinationals alike, thanks to the experience of its 60 employees, as well as its agility and capacity for innovation in a complex and ever-evolving industry. The group's recognized expertise has enabled it to count on a base of over 1,600 clients and to post sales of €M 12, with double-digit growth over the last three years and solid profitability.

21 Invest France will support Conex in accelerating its organic growth in France and internationally, as recently initiated with three subsidiaries in the UK, Ireland and Belgium. In addition, 21 will also support Conex in its external growth strategy, with the acquisition of European players to broaden its offering and/or strengthen existing solutions. Finally, Conex will continue its action in terms of sustainability, in line with 21's policy and the regulations in force in its industry.

Alban and Bertrand Gruson, founder and co-directors of the Conex group, comment:

"We are very satisfied to have met a partner like 21 Invest on our growth path, who has understood our business and the market opportunities, and is willing to support us in deploying a strategy of conquest. In our search for capital, we chose 21 Invest, given the entrepreneurial and family spirit that drives both our organizations."

Stéphane Perriquet, Managing Partner at 21 Invest France, comments:

"Conex has all the hallmarks of the projects we support at 21: a leading position in a buoyant market, excellent financial performance, a business model offering high recurrence and, last but not least, a fragmented European market presenting solid opportunities for consolidation. We were also attracted by the family project, led by Alban and Bertrand Gruson, which fits in perfectly with our DNA. Conex has the expertise, the customer recognition and the perfect positioning to change scale and consolidate its leadership in France and internationally.”

List of participants

21 Invest France (Stéphane Perriquet, Hadrien Jourdan, Patrick Aris), Conex (Alban Gruson, Bertrand Gruson)

Advisors to the buyers
Financial due diligence: Crowe HAF (Thomas Corbineau, Julien Latrubesse), Strategic & IT due diligence: Indefi x Singulier (Mathieu Ferel, David Toledano, Clément Huguet), Legal and Tax advisor: Hogan Lovells (Stéphane Huten, Ali Chegra, Maximilien Roland, Shanna Hodara), Legal and Financing advisor: Jeausserand-Audouard (Marie-Paule Noel)

Advisors to the sellers
Financial VDD: Exelmans (Stéphane Dahan, Eric Chan, Thibault Gerald); Legal counsel: Jeausserand-Audouard (Patrick Loiseau, Juliette Ritouret)

CIC Private Debt (Nicolas Offroy, Baptiste Robin), Lenders' legal counsel: Nabarro Béraud (Magali Béraud)

About Conex
As a partner to key accounts and SMEs in all sectors of activity, CONEX develops and markets a range of collaborative tools for managing customs and security declarations. Its customers -importing/exporting companies, carriersand RDEs (Registered Customs Representatives) -use its solutions and services to optimise and secure the entry, processing and electronic exchange of declarations for all their international trade in goods. For almost 40 years, CONEX has been taking partin developments in international trade and the supply chain, supporting companies in their customs development and working with European and international customs administrations. CONEX is headquartered near Lille (Orchies), with offices in Paris and three subsidiaries in Belgium, Irelandand the United Kingdom. An independent SME founded in 1985, CONEX has around sixty employees. For more information, visit
Contact: Carole Mignonet,
Agence C3M: Michelle Amiard,

About 21 Invest
An active and responsible shareholder alongside management for 30 years, the 21 Invest group has supported over 100 companies based in France, Italy and Poland through local funds. In France, the investment strategy focuses on companies combining growth and recurrence in 4 sectors: healthcare, technology/software, education and business services. 21 Invest supports the transformation of companies by providing its expertise in structuring and accelerating growth, particularly through market consolidation. For more information, visit
Contact: Astou Ciss,

Colloque de l’Odasce DOUANE HORIZON 2030 CONEX


The recent Odasce Colloquium celebrated the association’s fiftieth anniversary.
All the ingredients were there:

Colloque de l’Odasce douane 2030 conex

The setting:
Biarritz (with a view over the raging sea)

Colloque de l’Odasce

around 450

Colloque de l’Odasce

Topics covered:
Customs outlook for 2030

Colloque de l’Odasce

And in everyone's opinion,
it was a succes

Not to forget Denis Redon’s grand finale with his customary “surprise report” which alone constituted a highlight of the conference that all the participants would not miss for the world. For my part, through the forums and workshops, I found myself challenged by a certain number of points that I wish to submit to your wisdom.




First of all, the European Committee of the Wise and its inventory, followed by proposals for improvement. The idea of capturing data directly from the commercial source is not new, contrary to what has been said. This has been a constant temptation for administrations since computerisation first appeared. What is new is to affirm peremptorily that this will be the rule for tomorrow. I think there is still a long way to go before achieving this and the path there is strewn with certain legal and technological pitfalls. Would such an organisation mean that data generated by an operator on the other side of the planet would be imposed ipso facto in the country of destination of the goods, without any control on the part of the consignee? Does this mean that the administration will be able to and will assume the determination of duties and taxes, along with the amount to be collected? This is no longer an evolution, but a revolution! if only with regards to the “self-assessment” mechanism provided for in the CDU.



provisions are applied properly throughout the European Union. A kind of “police of the police” that would sanction the defaulting Member States in order to ensure uniformity in the treatment of customs aspects across the union territory. Such a project, in addition to adding yet another level to the European rocket, only highlights the distortions in treatment associated with customs and economic competition between the Member States. The question arises of the powers that would be granted to the agency to carry our such a mission…

The aspect of digitalisation was also the subject of some astonishment because in any case, companies progress in this area with leaden feet. It is only under a certain duress that they are gradually evolving towards this way of organising their activities. Despite considerable work carried out to achieve end-to-end electronic transmission, we are still far from the mark.

And it is not without having ourselves contributed to European projects such as CORE and SELIS.

But it is clear that only administrative obligation is likely to force companies to advance in this area. An example is the future electronic invoicing requirement planned in the EU and soon to be compulsory in France. It is no longer a question of creating a PDF, but of constituting a set of data elements in an electronic message equivalent to an invoice. Will this finally trigger the long-awaited click?



It is also worth noting the new ICS2 organisational schema which aims to allow multiple stakeholders to complete the data set required prior to arrival of goods into the EU. I still can’t project myself onto the ground. The question is who has what when. All orchestrated under the responsibility of the international carrier. Seller, freight forwarder, carrier, consignee, each one has a certain number of data elements. But who will operate their transmission in the form of a message to the EU? How many complementary messages will it be necessary to link to obtain all the data required?  It’s going to be essential for this little group of supply chain players to organise itself… But I was stunned to learn that despite creating a centralised European platform, risk analysis is still handled nationally by each Member State. It really seems that the concept of the European Union is having a hard time establishing itself! There is no doubt that differences will exist and that these will eventually lead to the diversion of traffic to less demanding states. The expression of “states within the state” takes on its full dimension.

But the next conferences organised between now and 2030 will perhaps bring some clarifications on these points.

Président Directeur Général

CUSTOMS: The power of artificial intelligence in document digitalisation


The power of artificial intelligence in document digitalisation

CONEX is launching its new OCR via conex™ module which, thanks to artificial intelligence, identifies in documents the data elements which will be useful for customs declarations, digitalises and analyses them before formatting them for direct integration into its customs clearance solutions, precisely where declarants need them.

By developing this new application in its customs software suite, CONEX saves operators from the time-consuming and tedious work of manual data entry. The relevant data elements are automatically extracted on the fly from international trade-related workflow documents, thus accelerating and securing all customs processing.

Supporting customs services in their technical development

The application is self-learning. Combined with the competence of the customs operator, it is enriched to deploy its full capacity after only a few documents processed by the declarants.

It has the ability to adapt to all types of documents, invoices, packing lists, etc. and speeds up and secures all data entry into customs declarant tools without the risk of error. By reducing the task of data entry upstream, the CONEX platform enables declarants to become more productive and to improve the safety and comfort of their work.

A number of customers have already adopted the module. They have found real opportunities for considerable gains in productivity when ramping up their customs processing.

“The return on investment, the ease of deployment and the security of customs processes are all decisive arguments for organisations. This new module takes its place within a whole series of changes to our customs declaration processing offering, thanks to Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence”, concludes Bertrand GRUSON, Managing Director at CONEX.


AGENCE C3M - Michelle Amiard -

cp-Conex_Bollore Transports & Logistics adopts Conex’s ZEN solutionBolloré Transport & Logistics adopts Conex’s ZEN solution and transforms its working relationship with its customers

At Bolloré Transport & Logistics, 275 metropolitan declarants are employed to process customs and security declarations. Little by little, the increase in administrative processing brought about by Brexit has prompted customer collaboration work to be further digitalised: the exchange of information is now organised around a documentary platform which receives and stores all the information exchanged, makes it possible to visualise processing progress, gives alerts in the event of hot spots, and produces periodic reports.


Towards a complete digitalisation of shared work

On post-Brexit 1st January 2021, the Bolloré Logistics Customs department suggested that its customer NESTLE work on the Conex ZEN platform. This secure digital workspace receives, centralises and archives documents and correspondence between the registered customs representative-freight forwarder and its customers, making it possible to optimise the completion of customs formalities for import / export operations. ZEN via conex™, which organises exchanges in a methodical way, quickly proved its worth and other Bolloré customers followed suit and joined forces with the collaboration tool…

“The Nestlé Group was the first customer to switch to this new work organisation, first, 10 declarants used it for the exchanges with their correspondents in 7 or 8 factories. Today, 30 declarants are connected to the tool for 6 customers and the movement is speeding up, with 100 declarants and about 15 customers planned to make the move in the short term. In the deployment stage, 2 hours are enough to train new users,” explains Jean-François Ledun, Customs Director at Bolloré Logistics.

Greater processing visibility and speed

ZEN via conex™ offers users a timesaving, collaborative workspace. Through an IT link, ZEN automatically assigns data to the corresponding declaration fields in CUSTOMS via conex™, the customs declaration software. The mandatory documents are thus progressively pre-filled, the only human intervention being for the purposes of verification.

ZEN provides traceability of exchanges between Bolloré and its customers at this pre-declaration stage. The customer gradually uploads the necessary documents to the declarants, ZEN intelligently organises all the data flows while the customer can follow closely throughout the life of the declarative file. An alert notifies the declarant concerned of any action on the platform, and he/she can then access the transmitted documents. The exchanges in the pre-declaration phase are tracked and the platform centralises documents and information which in the past arrived via a variety of methods such as email, telephone, drive etc, depending on each person’s habits.

Jean-François Ledun explains: “We know, file by file, where we are at any given moment, thanks to a condensed overview; if data is missing to clear an entry, we see it immediately and can take care of it as a priority.”

When the declarant sends the declaration to the customs administration, the processing workflow is tracked, and the customer and the declarant are kept informed of progress in real time.

Report templates are customisable according to customer criteria, so no more wasted time searching for data to compile reports. Performance indicators, such as the average processing time per declaration, are calculated automatically, and financial management data are summarised (amounts of customs duties, VAT, etc.).

“As a registered customs representative, and therefore a service provider, we must periodically provide reports to our customers. In some cases, it could take man-days to compile the information and present the renderings to the customer; with ZEN, creating reports is made easy, with preformatted templates,” emphasises Jean-François Ledun.

Finally, document and declaration archiving in ZEN via conex™ is another advantage: it is operated at the request of a customer for up to 10 years for all declarations and documents. The opposability of the archiving is reinforced by the use of Blockchain technology which will certify and timestamp each document and action making up the file.

About ZEN via conex™: ZEN via conex™ is a collaborative platform for exchanging, centralising, tracking and archiving data, documents and electronic messages. The customer can thus log all the movement of entries throughout the import/export process, from the pre-declarative phase right through to filing. Multiple actors – customers, partners, collaborators, importers, exporters, carriers … -, intervene in turn to enrich the declaration, in a collaborative workflow.

About Bolloré Transport & Logistics

Bolloré Transport & Logistics is a major international transport and logistics operator with 35,000 employees in 109 countries on five continents. A specialist in multimodal transport, the group operates through four businesses: Bolloré PortsBolloré LogisticsBolloré Energy and Bolloré Railways.

For more information:

About Conex

Partner to large corporations and SMEs in all sectors of activity, CONEX develops and markets a range of collaborative tools for the management of customs and security declarations. Its customers, importing/exporting companies, carriers, RDE (Registered Customs Representatives), use its solutions and services to optimise and secure the entry, processing and electronic exchange of declarations for all their international trade in goods.

CONEX has been involved for nearly 40 years in developments in international trade and the supply chain, supporting economic operators in their customs operations, and collaborating with European and international customs administrations.

CONEX, whose historic headquarters are located near Lille (Orchies), has offices in Paris, and two subsidiaries in Belgium and the United Kingdom. An independent SME, created in 1985, CONEX has around sixty employees.

AGENCE C3M - Michelle Amiard -