Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital LP have tapped banks for an initial public offering of Michael Stores Inc, North America's largest specialty retailer of arts and crafts which they paid over $6 billion to take private in 2006, four people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc are the leads on what could be one of the year's largest IPOs in the retail sector, the sources said. One of the sources said an IPO registration document is to be filed in April.

Blackstone declined to comment while Bain did not respond to a request for comment. A Michael Stores official did not respond to a request for comment.

Michaels operates 1,066 retail stores in 49 U.S. states and in Canada. It posted earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization of $661 million in 2011.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)