likely continue to be volatile in the near term. However, as discussed earlier, we believe the investments we are making in product assortment, our professional sales channel, merchandising, store remodel, store compensation, regional sales leadership and training, will result in increased customer service, increased store traffic and improved financial performance.
We are encouraged by our improved gross margin rate and a return to profitability during the first quarter. Each of those represent key milestones as we refine our business strategy. We are also beginning to see early signs of improved sales results in the product sub-categories, where we've added products to the assortment over the last three to four months. We expect that improvement to accelerate as more products are received and merchandised in stores over the next two quarters.
Finally, our entire team, from our sales associates, to our store managers, to those of us supporting the stores in our distribution centers and our Plymouth, Minnesota offices are energized by our current business strategy and the opportunity we have in front of us. With that, I'll turn it back over to Bob to conclude our prepared remarks.
Robert A. Rucker
Thank you, Kirk. As I hope you can tell from this call, while we obviously still have a lot of work to do, we believe we have the company on the right track and are beginning to gain some traction. While our topline and adjusted EBITDA performance in Q1 was significantly behind our performance from a year ago, we are hoping to reduce that performance gap in each of the remaining quarters this year. One final update is in regards to my replacement and our active CEO search process.
We are currently vetting our short list of internal candidates. So far, this has gone well. I expect our vetting of internal candidates to most likely go on for the next two quarters. We feel that is fine as long as we continue to show progress on our stated strategy.
With that, operator, Kirk, Cabby, and I are happy to take your questions.