Maternity retailer Mothercare has been lambasted by an activist shareholder for the “highly excessive” incentive payments awarded to its senior directors.

Australian fund VGI Partners wrote to Mothercare’s chairman on Monday demanding that the pay plan be “immediately reviewed”, according to the Financial Times.

VGI, which owns 1% of the retailer’s shares, is seeking to win support of institutional shareholders.

In the company’s remuneration report published last month, it was revealed that Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon was paid £4.58m in respect of an “incentive scheme vesting”. Finance director Neil Harrington received a total of £1.79m.

The payment was calculated on Mothercare’s relative outperformance of the FTSE All-Share General Retailers Index in the three years to March 2010.

Mothercare makes more than 70% of its underlying profits overseas, and as such VGI deems it “highly inappropriate” that Mothercare is compared to “predominantly UK and western Europe-focused businesses”.

The letter also demands that the “excessive” annual salary of Gordon be scrutinised.

Mothercare chairman Ian Peacock said: “We will look at the issues raised and take views from a variety of shareholders, including the institutions.”