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Design group YRM's share price shot up 30 per cent to 60p last week, despite the news that profits had fallen by around a third on the previous year. So, thinks the City, better times must be just around the corner.Time for industry-wide rejoicing then, because designers will be the first to notice the turnaround when it comes.Don't rush out and fill your boots with shares yet, though. We hear from privately-owned design group Acer in Guildford it's quite a different story.As highlighted a couple of weeks ago, Acer is pushing a highly aggressive expansionist strategy which has seen a long list of smaller concerns swallowed up over the past couple of years.Acer has left the Association of Consulting Engineers and last week we heard it had joined the Export Group for the Constructional Industries, formerly a contractors' preserve. Acer is clearly a consulting engineer unlike any other.But it has this in common with all the rest, including YRM. Times are hard and getting harder. Acer sacked no fewer than 5 per cent, around 100, of its staff last week in the first major across-the-board blood-letting since the group was formed by the merger of Freeman Fox and John Taylor. This was after growing in size by 80 per cent in the previous financial year alone.YRM also admits to not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. Its share price was stuck at 60p at the end of last week, but perhaps the Acer news will budge it.Other quoted designers, like High Point and the Waterman Partnership, look like being left to languish on their lowly stockmarket ratings for a while.